Drug Prevention at Elementary Schools

The need for the drug abuse prevention program in elementary schools rose rapidly during the last decade. More and more schools seek curriculum-based program like D. A. R. E (Drug Abuse Resistance Education). More and more third party entities develop programs that are geared to the young audience. The premise here is to educate our youngsters. When educated, they become in a better position to say “no” to drugs and negative influence of the peer pressure. Teachers, serving as conduit, become a primary vehicle to deliver the strong message to the their students.

Such programs are usually designed for intermediate level students and work together along with the programs that prevent bullying programs dealing with peer pressure. It is not such an easy task to evaluate various programs that are available to the public and private schools. They are numerous. Many authors of the programs as such have only surface knowledge about the causes of the drug abuse, and they ignore the fact that there are many causes that cause the youth to go that route (Cattarello, Clayton, & Walden 1991). Cattarello et al. (1991) reviewed several different models for the purpose of such programs.

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One of these, universal intervention, is described as a broad announcement, usually through the public media. The second method, identified as “selected intervention” means to address selected subgroups like those in a school setting. The content of selective intervention range from alcohol abuse to drug prevention to nicotine addiction. Certainly, different purpose translates into the specificity of the program. “Peer/social influence” program like D. A. R. E. was born in 1989 and for the specific purpose: to train young people in applying positive influence (peer pressure) to prevent dangerous behaviors, like submitting to drugs.

Diffusion of this program was rapid and effective. It was disseminated in many public schools positively affecting the attending youth. Similarly, it was invited in 2002 by the staff of Thomas Jefferson Elementary with a population of a little bit over 300 students. The school is located in Sacramento, California. Basic program premises consist of providing information about addictive substances, developing decision-making skills, and training student to say “no” to the negative influence of the peer pressure.

The program also teaches students to use their time in more productive ways as alternative to the destructive activities. It is a cooperative effort by schools, community, and police departments. The uniformed police officers visit schools and offer interactive presentations to the school population. Although the school is located in not troubled area pf the city, the goals of the program are well fit into the education milieu. It is a common sense that the more youngsters know about the topic the more resistance they can offer to the negative influence. This, the main goal of the program implementation is knowledge.

Role-playing develops appropriate skills that helps youngsters to choose correct and safe for them course of action. That would be the secondary goal. Finally, verbalizing the dynamics behind the bullying situations helps the children in recognition of bullying behaviors and successful negation of such. First two goals did not pose a problem in implementation. However, the third one proved to be a bit more challenging. The challenge consisted in identifying concrete bullying behaviors as far as many children would not be very clear in interpreting some of their actions as bulling.

For example, a boy telling the girl, “Go get that ball if you want me to give you this (toy),” might or might not be constituting as bullying behavior depending upon the tone of voice, “the bullied” child’s reaction, and frequency of occurrence. Such a minor example also displays the aberration from the original and concrete purpose: not to succumb to the peers pushing drugs. Atr the same time, if the program teaches how to respond to bullying behaviors cannot ignore even minor symptoms of bullying.

To evaluate the success behind the program, the school designed a very effective questionnaire/survey that was implemented twice a year: initially in the beginning of the program and at the end of the year. The scoring of the instrument always yielded very reveling results, those that would help the program to tune and readjust the next academic year. Following the suite, the next year’s progress is evaluated in the same manner. Thus, the program is not static but dynamic – constantly readjusting to the results of evaluation. It is difficult to discuss the factors that facilitate/not facilitate changes fro a year to year.

First and foremost is the repetition. If the first grader has been exposed to the program for five years, this student, now in fifth grade will be a very successful product to annual readjustment pf the program features. However, transient student who had not been exposed to the program during the prior years would find him/herself more resistant to the program benefits. Thus, based on this, recommendations would be as follows: to decrease the transience rate as much as possible, and to implement the program uniformly in all and every school of the district.

The stakeholders of the program benefit are the most and foremost the children and the immediate community, and in secondary fashion the teachers, school administrators, school board, and the community at large. The report of the program benefit should be distributed to the parents and the immediate community the school serves. References Cattarello, A. , Clayton, R. R. & Walden, K. P. 1991. Sensation seeking as a potential mediating variable for school-based Prevention intervention: a Two-year follow-up of D. A. R. E. Health Communication, (3).