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Drug Prevention in Schools

Drug Prevention in Schools
In order for teen drug prevention programs to be effective, they need to make use of all the available resources. Parents should work on drug prevention at home, but many schools today are also helping kids learn about the dangers of drug and alcohol use.

Design a Folder Contest

Schools in New Jersey recently gave kids the opportunity to participate in a drug prevention poster contest. The contest, which brought in entries from more than 8,000 fourth grade students throughout the state, recently announced its finalists. The “Design a Fourth Grade Folder Contest” was held by Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey/Verizon New Jersey, and it encouraged students to use their creativity to help classmates avoid substance use. The contest has been held for 14 years now, and is known in schools across the state as one way to prevent drug use among adolescents. Students this year were encouraged to use the theme, “Fun Things To Do Instead Of Doing Drugs.” Grand prize winners for this year were Poorva Phatak of John F. Kennedy School in Wayne and Pedro Reyes of Nicolas Copernicus School 25 in Jersey City. The winning entries will be featured on more than 30,000 school folders that will be used in schools throughout the state this September.

Peer-to-Peer Prevention

The “Design a Fourth Grade Folder Contest” is just one way schools are helping keep kids drug-free. Contests like this one use peer-to-peer prevention techniques, which, next to involved parenting, are some of the most effective ways to curb teen substance use. “These young students from around the state are setting tremendous examples for others to follow,” Angelo M. Valente, executive director of the Partnership for a Drug-Free New Jersey. “With their creativity and enthusiasm, they are to be commended for delivering compelling messages through their artwork to other students about enjoying a healthy life without drugs. Their artwork will help other children and teens understand that there are alternatives to drugs that are fun and rewarding.”

Other Prevention Methods

Schools use many other methods to help prevent substance use among students. Allowing students to sign pledges that they will not use drugs or alcohol, teaming up with law enforcement to get the message across, and establishing mentoring programs are all ways schools are using to prevent substance use. Other schools are turning to measures such as drug testing and zero tolerance policies to let students know the seriousness of drug use. While different methods have been found to be more effective than others at certain times, it is important for school districts to do what is best for them and their school families. Most importantly, it is imperative that schools enlist the help of parents and encourage prevention at home. When kids hear the message of prevention both at school and at home, they are much less likely to try drugs or alcohol. Communities that can also establish a positive peer prevention program will see even better results. Prevention should come from all sides, so that students can hear the information in multiple ways and process the message of prevention.