Substance Abuse

INTRODUCTION

1.         RATIONALE

The school is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to substance abuse.  This policy has been created and accepted by the Students, Parents/Guardians, Principal, Teachers and Board of Management. All of us will need to work together to implement the policy. It is vital that parents/guardians actively work with the school to implement the policy to ensure the health and safety of their children. In this policy “drug” means any substance which changes the way the body functions, mentally, physically or emotionally. The School recognises that drugs both legal and illegal are available in the wider community.  The School, as part of that community, has an important role  to fulfill in terms of education, prevention and support.

2.         THE SCHOOL ETHOS

Respect by all and for all is the keystone of our ethos. The School is committed to enabling students to fulfill their academic, intellectual, moral, spiritual, social, cultural and physical potential. We are also committed to fostering the development of personal responsibility.  It is this key notion which guides the School Health Policy.

  • The School does not accept the possession, use or supply of illegal drugs in the school, or on outside activities or in non school time by any member of the school community.
  • The School does not accept the possession, use or supply of alcohol or tobacco in the school or on school activities by any student.
  • The School does not accept the abuse of solvent based substances. Students may have prescribed or “over the counter” medicines for legitimate personal use only.
  • Students who have in their possession and take medical drugs in the long term must inform the school.
  • The School must be informed if a student has a medical condition and relevant teachers, e.g. P.E. teacher must be informed.
  • A student or teacher may not give another student any prescribed or “over the counter “medicine.
  • The school will not administer any medicines to students in any circumstances.
  • Chemicals in school laboratories will be held under lock and key. Students will handle and use such substances only under their teacher’s supervision.
  • As in all matters of any breach of school rules, the disciplinary sanctions outlined in the School Code of Behaviour will apply.

3.         THE POLICY IS FOCUSED ON FOUR KEY AREAS:

  1. Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes.
  2. Managing Drug Related Incidents.
  3. Training and Staff Development.
  4. Monitoring, Review and Evaluation.

3.1       Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes.

The School is committed to providing an Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programme for all students. Our educational aims are:

  • To increase the self esteem and confidence of our students.
  • To equip our students with personal and social skills.
  • To enable our students to make informed, healthy and responsible decisions.
  • To provide clear and age appropriate information on drugs.
  • To minimise the harm caused by drug abuse by offering supportive interventions.

These aims will be achieved by:

  • An SPHE Policy Co-ordinator who will monitor he implementation of the policy.
  • Teachers are offered Drug Awareness training, SPHE training or any relevant D.E.S. training through regular in-service training.
  • Outside speakers are used where appropriate to reinforce the work done in class.
  • Parents/Guardians will be consulted on the need for drug education and will be informed of what is happening in the School. Drug information and drug awareness sessions are also organised for parents.
  • Student Drug Education will be achieved through:
    • SPHE Programme
    • Science classes
    • First Aid Course in Transition Year
    • Outside speakers where appropriate.

3.2       Managing Alcohol, Tobacco, Drug Related Incidents

All situations involving drugs need to balance the needs of the student, the needs of the school community, the reputation of the school and legal considerations.  In every event it is important to:

  • Take time to listen and assess before responding.
  • Separate fact from rumour.
  • In situations of confirmed use or possession or supply all details must be recorded and acted upon.
  • Always complete an incident report.

 

Managing a drug incident

Staff will be informed on a “need to know” basis. All written records will be held confidentially by the Principal or Deputy Principal or counsellor. Parents/Guardians will be involved. They will be informed sensitively and support offered to them. In the case of illegal drugs the Principal or Deputy Principal will contact the Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer, and any drugs will be dealt with by Gardaí. In response to all incidents, pastoral support will be offered.

If it becomes known to staff that a student has a problem then a referral process will be implemented. Parents/Guardians, staff and other students involved in the incident will be offered support.  It is important that the limits of confidentiality are discussed with students before any disclosure is made. The well being and welfare of the student must be a primary focus.  This process to be co-ordinated by the Pastoral Care Team.  Advice and support to be arranged through N.E.P.S.,  the Chairperson of the Board of Management to be informed, and advice and support to be sought from the J.M.B.

The Principal, Deputy Principal or Chairperson of the Board of Management will handle all media enquiries. They will not comment on individual cases but will refer to the school policy and procedures in place to manage any drug related incident.  Legal advice will be sought before statements are made.

Disciplinary Procedures

Drug incidents are complex.  In situations where the school rules regarding drugs are broken, sanctions and punishments will be implemented depending on the nature of the offence. These will be consistent with school rules (see the code of behaviour).

3.3       Training & Development

  • The School will facilitate training for staff involved in the SPHE programmes.
  • All staff will be offered drug information and awareness training regularly, as per Department of Education & Science inset availability.
  • Specific training will be made available to the Substance Abuse Co- Ordinator / counsellor and other key staff in relation to managing drug related incidents.
  • First Aid training will be made available to all staff.
  • The School will provide opportunities for parents to attend information evenings on substance abuse. All parents of new students will be offered this information as part of induction evenings.  These sessions are arranged by the school counsellor.
  • The School will offer all of its students substance abuse education programmes within the context of their SPHE and guidance classes.  This instruction will be age appropriate.

4.         MONITORING THE POLICY, REVIEW AND EVALUATION

The Substance Abuse Policy Co-Ordinator / counsellor will monitor the policy annually to ensure that it is of practical benefit to the School community. The review will be recorded and made available to the Parents, Board of Management and Staff.

This policy was created through consultation with Parents’ Council, Board of Management, Staff SDPI team and Pastoral Care team in Nov. 2008 – Feb. 2009 and adopted by Board of Management in March 2009