Below are some practical tips on how you can decrease substance abuse in your school:
- Assess student drinking to determine the extent of the problem;
- Find out what factors may be contributing to student drinking in your school or community (e.g., easy access to alcohol and other drugs, peer pressure, adults’ failure to address the issue);
- Determine what steps, if any, are being taken within your school system to help young people resist the pressure to participate in risky behaviors;
- Educate parents about underage alcohol and other drug use;
- Support youth groups who actively work on prevention initiatives in your school;
- Develop an active partnership with the families of your students; and
- Implement school policies prohibiting alcohol and/or other drug use on school grounds.
School nurses, disciplinarians, and guidance counselors are often early points of contact for students with alcohol and/or other drug problems and should be supported in their efforts to identify and help these young people. Some school systems have formalized these efforts by establishing Student Assistance Programs (SAPs). For more information about SAPs, contact Student Assistance Services at /www.sascorp.org and the National Student Assistance Association at www.nasap.org.
Children do not need to make straight A’s or be involved in every extracurricular activity at their school in order to have a lesser chance of drug use later in life. Finding even one activity that a child especially loves and is talented at can make a big difference. If a child is good at soccer or really wants to play the trumpet, then encourage that child as much as possible in that endeavor. This will help them feel connected to the school environment and his or her schoolmates. Volunteering in the community or taking part in community activities from an early age can also help the child feel more connected to his or her environment.
Prevention programs for school children should target improving academic and social emotional learning to address risk factors for drug abuse, such as early aggression, academic failure, and school dropout. Education should focus on the following skills:
- Social problem-solving
- Academic support, especially in reading
- Emotional awareness
A great resource is the 40 developmental assets from the Search Institute, to view this document, click here. (need pdf)