Substance Abuse

MOUNT TEMPLE SCHOOL: SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In the school’s understanding, Mount Temple’s substance abuse policy covers the

misuse of substances potentially harmful to health, apart from tobacco for which a

separate school policy exists.

The philosophy underlying this policy is one of concern and support for pupils, of

dealing with them and supporting them within the range of our expertise and, as far as

possible, within school. This will be done without appearing to condone the misuse

of substances in the eyes of the individual, the general body of pupils, or of the staff.

The issues are ones of

* care, without condoning

* pupils accepting responsibility for their actions, and

* the consequences for the student and the school.

The following categories apply while in school, or on school related activities:

1. Substances which are affecting someone’s behaviour.

2. Substances which are in someone’s possession for his/her own use.

3. Substances which are being taken.

4. Any negotiations made involving harmful and/or illegal substances.

5. Substances being given or sold.

School guide-lines have been drawn up for action to be taken by the relevant

personnel with pupils who fall into any of the above categories. These may include

counselling and treatment procedures, as well as consequences for the student in and/

or out of school. Also parents/ guardians, the juvenile liaison system and the Gardai

may be involved, as deemed appropriate.

This policy is reviewed annually and/ or updated as necessary.

SCHOOL GUIDE-LINES FOR DEALING WITH SUBSTANCE ABUSE

In introducing the following guide-lines for personnel involved in the care and management

of pupils who have been involved in substance abuse, the school believes that, from time to

time, a range of people will be involved in their care and management. Such personnel should

include

*the school discipline team

*counselling personnel, internally and externally

*a monitoring team

*parents/ guardians, and finally the

*Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) and the Gardai

ROLES & FUNCTIONS

Each group has a distinct function. None of these groups is pre-eminent but they will

cooperate in order to arrive at the best possible care and outcome for the student and for the

school. This cooperation will require frequent consultation.

The Principal and the Board of Management will be the final arbiters concerning an

individual’s position in the school.

CATEGORIES

1. Substances affecting someone’s behaviour.

Symptoms may include a fall off in work over time, dilated pupils, erratic or uncharacteristic

behaviour.

Any staff member who is worried about the behaviour of a student should consult

immediately with the counselling staff. Casual discussion about the student in any other

forum is inappropriate and unhelpful. The aim should be to seek help for the student as soon

as possible.

After consultation with the student, the counsellor will give appropriate feedback to the

referring member of staff and the tutor. Parents/guardians may be involved and the student

may be referred for external treatment.

2. Substances which are in someone’s possession for his/her own use.

The member of staff who finds a student in possession of any substance should

(a) accompany the student to the Interview Room and stay with the student whilst phoning for

the Head of Discipline, or in his/her absence, the Deputy-Principal

(b) ask the student to hand over the substance and give it to the Head of Discipline along with

a report of the circumstances.

If a student refuses to hand over the substance, the Head of Discipline should inform

the Principal and telephone the parents. / guardians, unless known home circumstances

warrant disclosure in a more appropriate manner. The student will be kept in school, out of

circulation, under supervision, until the parents/ guardians arrive to discuss the situation with

the Head of Discipline.

The student will be obliged to enter a contract. In-house consequences will include a

period of voluntary work, either with a care agency or in school (the number of hours to be

specified). In addition, the student may not participate in school trips or hold office for three

months.

The Principal will inform the JLO to ensure that additional support is available to the student.

The student will be assigned to a member of the monitoring team and a school counsellor will

see the student. A case review will be held at the end of the three month period.

3. Substances which are being taken in school or on school related activities

The care and management of a student in this category is dependent on the pattern and

severity of the abuse.

School medical attention should be sought immediately for a student in this category and an

ambulance should be called. The student should be accompanied to hospital by the Head of

Discipline, the Deputy-Principal, the Principal or a member of staff appointed to do so.

The student will be suspended from school. Return to school will be dependent on a medical

and/or treatment report being received. The duration of the absence from school will be

determined by the nature of the drug taken, the level of dependency, recommendations from

outside professionals and contact with parents/ guardians.

If parents are unavailable for an extended period of time, and there is no functioning guardian,

a student in this category may attend school, but remain out of circulation, under supervision.

On return to school, the following system of care and management will apply: The in-house

consequences will include the student being cautioned strongly by the Head of Discipline

concerning his/ her long-term future in the school. A letter confirming this will be sent to

parents/ guardians. The student will be obliged to enter a contract. If necessary, the Principal

will inform the JLO to ensure that additional support is available.

4. Any negotiations made involving substances

The Head of Discipline, and any other appropriate member of staff, should investigate any

incident which arises that involves pupils, in a school context, in negotiations concerning

substances. A full report should then be given to the Principal. The parents/ guardians will

be called to the school by the Principal and informed of the situation. The student will be

suspended from school pending an investigation by the appropriate authorities and action

taken according to the prevailing legislation.

5. Substances being given or sold

Any student involved in the selling or distribution of substances on school premises or

school-related activities may be reported to the Gardai and expelled from school.

Reviewed September 2012