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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.
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
*the school discipline team
*counselling personnel, internally and externally
*a monitoring team
*parents/ guardians, and finally the
*Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) and the Gardai
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.
1. Substances affecting someone’s behaviour.
Symptoms may include a fall off in work over time, dilated pupils, erratic or uncharacteristic
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
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

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