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I agree with the above posts. Any good program needs support from all persons involved. Another good point is brought up by kplhardison. Control and supervision is of the utmost importance. Everyone needs to be involved.
One thing I see as a needed element of any program is more control and supervision of where youths and teens go after school and during free time (holidays etc) and what access they have to unsupervised monetary expenditures. As youths and teens freedoms to come and go and to spend as they wish have increased historically over time, so have poor choices and incidents of uses and abuses.
I agree with other editors in thinking the key to this is education. Unfortunately, I don't think we an prevent access to drugs, as drug dealers will always find other ways or systems of selling drugs to those who want to buy them. It is therfore important to educate children and teenagers in the dangers of taking drugs and the various side effects so that they are able to make informed decisions.
I think one of the best approaches to dissuading kids from using drugs is providing alternatives and setting them up on a path to achieving goals. Think about it. Kids who use drugs are often overly educated about the side effects and long term problems they cause, but in the end, they simply don't care. But the kids who seem to stay away from drugs (no matter their background) are the ones who are involved in something where drugs would immediately affect their success (like sports, dance, theater, music, etc).
Drug prevention, to me, is far less about education, and more about providing alternatives, then making the alternatives so much more appealing than the junkie lifestyle, that kids want to choose the alternative. In this way, involving community members and parents is key, but so is involving professional athletes, college students, and other real people who avoided drugs and found success.
One possibile aspect of such a program might be to allow students to meet drug abusers whose lives have been strongly damaged (socially, psychologically, physically, and otherwise) by their use of drugs. Such exposure might be more effective than reading about potential problems. Even the photos I've seen of people damaged by meth abuse have been pretty frightening; it would be interesting to actually speak to such a person.
I think anytime you can involve the parents in anything, you get greater results! This holds true for school, community services, and sports activities. Most children need and want their parents to be involved in their lives, and if the parents do so in a helpful, constructive, loving manner their children benefit from it. And think about it--most kids who are doing drugs are doing it because their parents aren't giving them the attention and love they are craving or because their home is dysfunctional. So, if parents create a home environment that contributes to their children taking drugs, they definitely need to be involved when others try to help their kids stay off of drugs or get rehabilitated when they get on drugs!
It should involve every level of community that kids come into contact with, absolutely including parents, but also local businesses, schools and teachers, churches, even their peers. It seems as though only a well-coordinated effort between these groups will have a real effect. Kids need to see that the entire society is working towards te same goal of keeping them safe, clean and sober.
I agree with pohnpei397 about involving parents. I do believe that drug education should start before junior high school. Some students have already started to experiment by that age. One thing that has been increasing awareness is drug "take back" programs that local hospitals or other agencies have been hosting. People are encouraged to drop off old or unused medications at these events. This has made parents more aware of how dangerous it is to keep medicine, especially controlled substances that are commonly abused, where their children have access to it.
I think education must be a part of any sincere drug abuse prevention program. Not drug education (though important), but education in general. People must be empowered and provided with tools, especially those who are already struggling with drug problems.
To me, such an approach really ought to involve parents. I would think that it would be as important to educate parents about drug risks and about how to talk to their kids about drugs as it would be to talk directly to the students. So one "facet" of my own would be to provide educational materials to parents (perhaps electronically so as to cut down on costs) that would help parents be able to reinforce messages being sent at school.
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