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What should schools do following an alcohol and other drug related incident?

Feb 22, 2018

Schools are occasionally involved in alcohol and drug related incidents, for example when a student presents or becomes intoxicated on school grounds. Once the immediate risks have been managed and classes resume, it can be difficult to know how to appropriately support the school community. We receive many calls at Dovetail about this topic, so we thought it would be handy to summarise the advice that we regularly provide to schools around Queensland.

  • Don't wait for an incident to occur to come up with a response - develop a plan in advance as a part of a  "whole school approach" which aligns your school's alcohol and other drug policies and procedures
  • Ensure the approach complies with the Australian Government's "12 Principles for School Alcohol and Other Drug Education"
  • Make sure that your school uses evidence-based alcohol and other drug education embedded within the curriculum, delivered by the regular classroom teacher, sequentially over the year levels
  • Avoid one-off presentations that don't link with the curriculum or build upon the students' existing knowledge and skills
  • Avoid unintentionally giving information on how to obtain or use substances where young people do not already have this information
  • Steer clear of fear-based approaches and "shock" tactics, and approaches that rely on lecturing students.  These types of approaches have been proven ineffective
  • Don't present alcohol and other drug education in a way that normalises substance using behaviours, or results in young people believing that substance use is more common than it really is
  • Consider how to manage interest from the media in any alcohol and drug related incident. This should be addressed in your school's alcohol and other drug policy and procedures.

For information on effective school alcohol and other drug education programs and resources check out Positive Choices or give us a call on (07) 3837 5621