Tuesday, May 17, 2011

School-based prevention programs shouldn't be the "lonely voices"

According to a story appearing in the Health Behavior News Service, "school prevention programs aimed at curbing alcohol misuse in children are somewhat helpful, enough so to deserve consideration for widespread use." 

It goes on to say that not all school-based substance abuse prevention programs are effective but, “School-based prevention programs that take a social skills-oriented approach or that focus on classroom behavior management can work to reduce alcohol problems in young people.”

The authors concluded that their evidence supported the use of certain generic prevention programs over alcohol-specific ones. They cited the Life Skills Training Program, the Unplugged Program and the Good Behavior Game as particularly effective interventions.

“Some interventions might be more effective in a rural setting with limited alcohol availability but not so effective in a big city with lots of alcohol and drug availability,” researchers said.

They emphasize that “school-based programs are so often expected to do the whole job of prevention, and this is an unfair expectation.” He describes school-based programs functioning as “lonely voices” in an environment saturated with marketing messages promoting youthful drinking. The amount of drinking in a youngster’s home and community and the price of alcohol are other major influences that need addressing, he said. Until then, “we can't expect large effects from school-based programs alone.”

Coalitions, such as Prevention WINS, consider youth substance abuse to be a community problem requiring a community solution.  While Prevention WINS successfully introduced Life Skills Training into Eckstein Middle School, we are currently working to reduce access to alcohol among young people and increase positive parenting skills that have proven to reduce youth substance abuse. 

No comments: