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Home > Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science debate. School bullying and the impact on mental health: discussion (resumed).

[Oireachtas] Joint Committee on Education, Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science debate. School bullying and the impact on mental health: discussion (resumed). (01 Jun 2021)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/joint_...


…..Chairman: Maybe ten or 12 years ago there was drug testing in post-primary schools. Students or parents would sign that their sons or daughters would voluntarily take a drug test. It was not mandatory; it was totally voluntarily. I remember tabling a couple of questions to the Department of Education. The issue of drugs a big problem in terms of peer pressure and bullying. I would be interested to hear Ms O’Connor’s views on this….. Voluntary drugs testing is a hot issue. Could Ms O'Connor briefly comment on this? I will allow Senator Byrne to come back in for another question after this. Will Ms O'Connor reply briefly to that? I will ask Mr. White to reply to my question on eating disorders. 

Ms Rachel O'Connor (vice-president of the National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, NAPD) This is an interesting aspect of school life. My immediate reaction is that if it is voluntary, someone who is misusing or abusing substances will not engage. It is important that we have substance misuse and abuse policies up to date. Again, it is back to information, to creating awareness and to getting buy-in from parents. There is a space here in terms of the size of schools. If one is in a school with more than 1,000 pupils, it will be much harder to regulate and to keep an eye on everybody in the building. Supports need to be put in place, particularly for larger schools, where these kinds of issues can manifest themselves in an insidious way in the background. Very often, schools have a good handle on issues where drugs are involved, and strong substance misuse policies. Again, it comes back to awareness and getting in early, in first year. Again, parent buy-in is important. The Deputy has an interesting proposal.

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