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How Can We Enable Children To Live A Drug-Free Life?



Credits



Source

U.S. Department of Education

Contents

Drug Prevention is a Shared Responsibility

How Can Parents Help Prevent Their Children From Using Drugs?

I Want My Children To Grow Up Drug Free, But Where Can I Get Help?

How Can Schools Help Prevent Children From Using Drugs?

How Can I Find Out More About School Drug Prevention Programs?

Conclusion

Sources


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Health, Safety, Nutrition and Kids


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Drug Prevention is a Shared Responsibility

In the 1980s, there was a steady decline in the use of alcohol and other drugs among 12- to 17-year-olds. After a decade of significant progress, however, a recent survey indicates that this downward trend has leveled off for some drugs, leaving the rate of alcohol and some other drug use in the United States still high.

The reasons for drug use are varied. Children may use drugs to satisfy their curiosity, conform to peer pressure, relieve anxiety, or have an adventure. But, whatever tempts them, we must teach children to reject drugs because drug use is illegal, harmful to their health, and interferes with academic and social development.

Drug information programs, while important, cannot stand alone as a deterrent to drug use. Current literature has focused on a "holistic" approach to preventing drug use. A holistic approach emphasizes a prevention strategy that takes into account the wide range of forces that affect children's lives. Parents, as the prime nurturers of their children's development, play a prominent role in preventing drug use. Schools, communities, social service organizations, religious groups, law enforcement agencies, the media, and local businesses also play vital roles.

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How Can Parents Help Prevent Their Children From Using Drugs?

Parents have many opportunities to foster healthy, drug-free lifestyles in their children, playing a dominant role in their children's emotional and interpersonal development from infancy. Children are taught ethical values and responsibility through what social scientists call "modeling," or demonstrating acceptable behaviors for children to follow. Parents who have responsible habits and attitudes regarding drug use send a healthy message and strongly influence their children's ideas about alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. Parents are models for their children, and even the use of legal drugs may send the wrong signal.

A basic reality is that children will have to make their way in a world that is filled with opportunities to use drugs, but parents can prepare their children to make positive choices. High self-esteem sometimes helps children resist peer pressure to use drugs, but not always. Research is unclear about the relationship between self-esteem and drug use. However, all children need opportunities to practice decision-making and to become aware of the consequences of bad decisions. Parents need to provide clear, factual information about drugs and their effects.

They also need to appropriately supervise their children. For example, parents should know their children's friends and be aware of what their children are doing. They also need to ensure that there is proper supervision of after-school and weekend activities and that all parties are chaperoned by responsible adults.

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I Want My Children to Grow Up Drug Free, But Where Can I Get Help?

The following organizations provide materials or other assistance to help parents keep their children drug-free:

American Council for Drug Education
204 Monroe Street, Suite 110
Rockville, MD 20850
(301) 294-0600
1 (800) 488-DRUG

ERIC Clearinghouse on Counseling and Student Services
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
School of Education, Curry Building
Greensboro, NC 27412-5001
(919) 334-4114

Just Say No Foundation
2101 Webster Street, Suite 1300
Oakland, CA 94612
1 (800) 258-2766

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
11426 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20850
1 (800) 729-6686

National Families In Action
The National Drug Information Center
2296 Henderson Mill Road, Suite 300
Atlanta, GA 30345
(404) 934-6364

National Federation of Parents For Drug-Free Youth
11159-B South Town Square
St. Louis, MO 63123
(314) 845-1933

National Federation TARGET Program, Inc.
P.O. Box 20626
11724 NW Plaza Circle
Kansas City, MO 64195
1 (800) 366-6667

National PTA Drug and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project
700 North Rush Street
Chicago, IL 60611
(312) 787-0977

Parents' Resource Institute for Drug Education (PRIDE)
40 Hurt Plaza, Suite 210
Atlanta, GA 30303
(404) 577-4500

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How Can Schools Help Prevent Children From Using Drugs?

Schools can add a crucial component to the drug prevention efforts of parents by incorporating prevention strategies within the context of health, science, and family life curricula. Schools also provide an organized peer group setting in which children can develop communication and decision-making skills.

Schools need to have a clear no-use drug and alcohol policy. Some schools require students and parents to sign a form agreeing that all drug-related offenses will be referred to the police and that students who use drugs, including alcohol, will be required to obtain counseling.

For schools to respond effectively and complement the activities of the family, the entire community must be involved. When community members are asked to provide input into the school's strategy to combat drug abuse, they can make valuable contributions to the effort and, in turn, add legitimacy to the schools drug prevention program.

Student Assistance Programs (SAPs) have proven to be quite successful in combating drug use in many schools. SAPs involve teams of students, teachers, administrators, parents, and counselors trained to recognize causes and symptoms of substance abuse and provide or recommend appropriate intervention. Within a SAP, school professionals are able to refer students confidentially to a "core" or "impact" team that follows up to determine whether intervention or further referral is required. These programs can be tailored to meet the needs of a particular community.

In their classroom practice, teachers can exert significant influence on the beliefs, attitudes, and opinions of their students and complement other drug prevention activities. For example, teachers can hone the problem-solving and decision-making skills of students by incorporating drug prevention strategies into daily lesson plans that are geared toward the social and intellectual needs of their students. In middle school, for instance, peer pressure can be intense. Middle school teachers may use role playing to help small groups of students practice ways to resist peer pressure to use alcohol and other drugs.

The use of "peer leaders" has been has been successful both in and out of school. Peer leaders receive special training to help them develop strong communication and problem-solving skills. They may lead discussion groups to give other students a forum to voice their questions and concerns. The peer-leader strategy provides positive role models for other students and strengthens the self-esteem of the peer leaders.

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How Can I Find Out More About School Drug Prevention Programs?

The following organizations provide materials, technical assistance, or other support to schools in developing a successful drug prevention strategy:

U.S. Department of Education
Drug Abuse Prevention Outreach Program
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW
Washington, DC 20208
(202) 401-3030

National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
11426 Rockville Pike
Rockville, MD 20850
1 (800) 729-6686

National School Safety Center
4165 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Suite 290
Westlake Village, CA 91362
(805) 373-9977

Western Regional Center for Drug-Free Schools and Communities Resource Center
Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory
101 Southwest Main, Suite 500
Portland, OR 97204
1 (800) 547-6339

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Conclusion

Parents play an important role in educating their children about drugs, but they cannot do it alone. Other groups also exert strong influence over children, including the school, clubs, and teams. Schools can increase children's awareness of the negative effects of drug use and equip them with skills to resist drug and alcohol use. When parents and schools work together within the context of the larger community, they gain the consensus that will strengthen drug prevention efforts.

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Sources

Abstracts of the following journal articles and documents are available in the ERIC database. Journal articles marked with EJ can be found at most research libraries. Documents marked with ED can be found on microfiche at more than 900 locations or ordered in paper copy or microfiche from the ERIC Document Reproduction Service. Call 1 (800) LET-ERIC for more details.

Gopelrud, Eric N. (1991). Preventing Adolescent Drug Use: From
Theory To Practice. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services, Office of Substance Abuse Prevention. ED 341
002.

McGovern, John P. (August 1991). "Student Assistance Programs:
An Important Approach to Drug Abuse Prevention." Journal Of
School Health, 61 (6), 260-64. EJ 436 748.

Monahan, Michelle (1991). I Was Always Too Busy, Am I Too Late?
Practicum Report. Nova University. ED 337 734.

U.S. Department of Education (1989). Growing Up Drug-Free: A
Parent's Guide To Prevention. Washington, DC: U.S. Department
of Education. ED 314 217.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (1991). Parent
Training Is Prevention: Preventing Alcohol And Other Drug
Problems Among Youth In The Family. Rockville, MD. ED 341
008.

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Credits

Office Of Educational Research And Improvement
Access Eric
Eric Pamphlet

Written by Matthew Soska, ACCESS ERIC.

This publication was prepared by ACCESS ERIC with funding from the Office of Educational Research and Improvement, U.S. Department of Education, under Contract No. RR92024001. The opinions expressed in this brochure do not necessarily reflect the positions or policies of the U.S. Department of Education.

February 1994; Last update 02/04/94 (ihs)

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