St. Michael’s Policy On Alcohol, Tobacco & Drug Abuse

The School Position.
This school is committed to addressing the needs of the whole school in relation to drugs.
We believe that Teachers, Parents Board of Management Students and other relevant personnel need to work together and that co-operation is essential to the acceptance and implementation of the policy.

It has been agreed that a Drug is ‘any substance which changes the way the body functions, mentally, physically and emotionally’.

This school recognises that drugs – both legal and illegal are available in the local community and that the school being part of this community has and will have drug incidents which need to be handled in a consistent and sensitive way. This school also acknowledges that it has an important role to play in drugs education.

This policy applies to Teachers, Parents, Young People, the Board of Management and all other staff.

The School Ethos.
This school believes that the Personal and Social Development of each member of the school community is important. Education flourishes in an environment where good relationships are encouraged, where people feel valued and respected and where there is genuine tolerance, fairness and support for those in difficulty.

This philosophy underpins and informs all the work we do and is ventral to this policy document.

The Use of Drugs in School.
This school does not accept the possession, use of supply of drugs in the school, on school trips or in non school time by any member of the school community. The only exception is for legitimate medicinal use and the school has to be informed.

This policy is focused on four key areas:

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

A. Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Education Programmes

The School Position.
This school is committed to providing a comprehensive and time-tabled drug education programme for all students which will be incorporated into the Social, Personal and Health Education Programme and other programmes currently running in the school.

Our educational aims in relation to Drug Education are:

  • To increase the self-esteem and confidence of the young people.
  • To equip young people with personal and social skills.
  • To enable young people to make informed, healthy and responsible choices.
  • To provide honest and age appropriate information on drugs.

These aims will be met through the following actions:

  • All teachers involved in SPHE will be given the opportunity to avail of training in group facilitation skills and personal development.
  • Staff teaching the Drugs Education Programme will be given the opportunity avail of training in the Substance Abuse Prevention Pack (SAPP) – ‘On My Own Two Feet@ – Department of Health and Science and Department of Health and Children.
  • All teachers will be offered Drug Information and Drug Awareness training through regular in-service training.

Outside Speakers
We believe that trained teachers are in the best position to carry out drug education but sometimes it may be appropriate to use an outside speaker to supplement or reinforce the work done in the class.

Parents.
Parents are to be made aware and informed of what is happening in the school with regard to drug education. Parents will also be consulted through the Parent School Association on the need for drug related education.

B. Management of Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Related Incidents

The School Approach.
We acknowledge that in all situations involving drugs, there needs to be a balance between the needs of the young person, the needs of the school community and the reputation of the school.

Listening, separating fact from myth and support will be our initial approach to the situation. Disciplinary procedures will be followed if the school rules are broken. Procedures are in place to handle specific drug incidents.

Drug Incidents.
The following are examples of a drug incident:

  • Emergencies where the person is unconscious.
  • Intoxication/unusual behaviour.
  • Suspicion/rumour of drug use, possession or dealing.
  • Disclosure by another person.
  • Possession of a legal/illegal drug on the school premises or on a whole school related activity.
  • Selling/supplying legal/illegal drugs.
  • Person seeking help from a member of staff.
  • School grounds being used for drug activity.
  • Drug paraphernalia found on school property.

Assessing a Drug Incident.
In all cases where there is no immediate danger to the young person/s, it is important to take some time to assess the situation before responding.

Complete the Report Form for recording Incidents involving Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use.

Recording Procedure
All staff need to be aware of the signs of drug use and alert for changes in behaviour. Adolescence is a period of great change and rumour must not be taken as evidence of drug use.

In situations of confirmed use/possession or supply then all the details will be recorded and acted upon.

A written recording procedure will be used. This procedure will ensure that a fair process of challenging the student about behaviour of concern is in place. (See report Form for recording Incidents involving Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Use).

Managing a Drug Incident.
It is important in all suspected or confirmed drug incidents that a limited number of people are involved in managing the incident. People will be informed on a ‘need to know’ basis.
The Principal, Guidance Counsellor(s) and person/s directly involved in the case will be informed and all written documentation will be held confidentially by the Principal.

Parents.
In most cases the school will want to involve the parents/carers. This needs to be handled sensitively and wherever possible support offered to them.

Gardai
It is agreed that the Principal or a designated person will contact the Gardai and/or the Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) in the event of a drug incident. Any drugs found on the premises will be dealt with by these officers.

Counselling/Pastoral Care.
For some young people their involvement with drugs may be masking some underlying difficulties and for others it may be a phase of experimentation, which they will pass through safely.

In response to all incidents, pastoral support will be offered.
If the person has a serious drug problem then referral to an appropriate service will be recommended.

Parents and staff involved in the incident will be offered support.

Disciplinary Procedures.
Drug incidents are complex and in situations where the school rules regarding drugs are broken, the sanctions and punishments will be implemented depending on the nature and severity of the offence. These will be consistent with school rules regarding other breaches of conduct.
See School Code of Behaviour.

Confidentiality
Teachers cannot offer total confidentiality to a young person who discloses drug involvement. We recognise the need for care in this area as the young person may be coming to a teacher because they trust him/her and need help. The young person must be informed about what is happening and why. How this situation is handled will have an important bearing on the outcome. Information, however, will only be disclosed on a ‘need to know’ basis.

Media
The Principal or a nominated spokesperson will handle all media queries. The school will not comment on individual cases but will refer to the school policy and the procedures in place to manage any drug related incident.

C. Training & Staff Development.

Staff

  • The school will make available training to staff involved in delivering Social, Personal & Health Education Programmes.
  • All staff will be offered drug information and awareness training.

Parent & Board of Management
The school will provide opportunities to attend information sessions and workshops on issues relating to drugs and the school policy.

Young People
This school will offer all its students drug education programmes within the context of their SPHE classes/modules and other school programmes.