drug use education or preventionDescribe the nature and scope of drug use education and/or prevention programs in your own community or local school district.
Our local school district has several programs in place to prevent drug use as well as helping students who are already using drugs. Most of the students complete a drug education program in both elementary school and middle school. Students are also exposed to many different forms of drug education in high school. Each freshmen has a section of drug education during their health class. The older students go through various forms of drug education centered around events like prom. For example, we had the fire department come and give a demonstration about the consequences of driving drunk on prom night. They had a wrecked car that was on fire (a strictly controlled fire) and people pulled from inside the car. They showed what it might be like to experience a horrible tragedy as a consequence of drinking and driving.
Other programs dealt with students who had already tried drugs. There were classes that students had to take on Saturdays if they were caught with tobacco on campus. There were also classes about alcohol and other drugs as well. Of course with illegal substances or underage drinking, the class was taken while serving out other court sentences as well.
I'm not that impressed with our efforts thus far. Whether that's from apathy, a lack of awareness as to the extent of the problem, a lack of funding, or simply not knowing an effective approach, we have been quite unsuccessful. As with gangs, getting kids opportunities for some drug-free alternative activities is important. Coordinate school efforts with local churches and organizations like the YMCA/YWCA and start clubs. We're not going to take drugs fully out of our communities though, so I also think we have to be honest with kids about what they are using and stop trying to merely scare them. Their frontal cortexes keep telling them they are invincible, so fear tactics, I find, don't work very well.
I wasn't sure if you were asking for our reactions about efforts in our local areas, or if this is a question someone else had addressed to you about your local area. If the latter, then you would want to try to track down accurate information about efforts in your area. I suspect that state statistics are compiled about such matters; you may want to try to contact the state board of education (or department of education) to see what kind of information is available. The important thing is to get information that is reliable.
Unfortunately, in my district, we do not have any drug intervention problems. Now, at the lower levels (K-8), there is still the D.A.R.E. program, but at the high school level, not much is done. That being said, we do deal with students and drug use on an individual basis. If we hear about a student doing drugs, they are called into the office and spoken with about things the district can help them with--if they admit to a problem. The good thing is, we simply do not have a rampant drug problem--or at least one we know about.
I have to agree with #4. I don't think it is plausible to just try to tell kids all drugs are bad. We need a far more sophisticated approach that does not just rely on fear tactics in the vain hope of trying to ensure they do not experiment. So may kids are experimenting and taking drugs, and I don't think our strategies have caught up with this reality yet. We have to be realistic whilst at the same time not giving up the fight to educate young people so that they can make responsible decisions.
In the school districts I've taught in, kids do the D.A.R.E. program until high school, at which point the only drug education they get is in their health classes, which are taken in the ninth grade. There is the occasional assembly by a person who has overcome drug addiction, and sometimes even a police presentation in the lobby during lunch, but there is no sustained effort to address what everyone knows is a serious problem other than suspending kids who are caught with drugs.
This will require some research on your part. Your local Department of Education District Office might be a good starting place. They may provide you with an overview of what the programs are or direct you to where you might find the information. In addition, an administrator or assistant administrator might be willing to spare you 10 or 15 minutes--in person, on the phone, over email or chat--to answer two or three well thought out questions pertaining to your inquiry.
In my school district, these kind of programs start in elementary school. At that point, the process is relatively low-key. There will be little symbolic things like a "wear red to school" day to signify awareness of the problems drugs cause. As the kids get older, there are more in-depth discussions of drugs, usually in health classes and with speakers who are brought in. We're a small district. Larger districts probably have much more elaborate programs.
In my area we have something called 'Red Ribbon Week.' It usually consists of a special guest speaker coming to talk to the kids about drugs. It also consists of teachers and students decorating their classroom doors in an effort to deter drug use. I have only seen this program in action on the Elementary level and it seems to lack depth and complexity. However, drug education is certainly an area where parents and churches should have a huge impact.