Education in Schools
• Main Message
i) Some would argue that drug education should aim to stop young people becoming involved/using illegal substances (primary prevention).
ii) A more realistic aim would be “to reduce harm by ensuring that young people receive drug education that is honest, accurate and designed to support informed choice”, 1996 (Harm minimisation approach).
• What has research shown to be the most effective health promotion approaches used with this topic?
– Fear arousal – research has shown this to be ineffective in reducing drug use. Some research shows increased use. (Coggans et al, 1991; De Haes, 1975; Cohen, 1996).
– Information giving – increases knowledge but fails to decrease use. Can increase use. Depends if it is only information about negatives (Schaps et al, 1981).
– Lifeskills approach – prevents drug use by promoting a wide range of social skills (eg self-esteem, resistance to peer pressure). (Hawthorne, 1995 and Keene and Williams 1996).
– Diversionary activities – might improve self-esteem, but does not seem to affect young people’s use of drugs.
– Involvement of families – i.e drug education evenings, community development, health promoting schools. (Quinn, 1996). Young (1996) describes a comprehensive evaluation of a parent child drug education programme which produced changes in the responses of children and their parents to questions concerning attitudes, use, perceptions of use and intended use of drugs.
Research on effectiveness from the HEA (1997) suggests that:
- school-based interventions should be tailored to take account of the stage of drug use reached by individuals;
- there should be better understanding of what young people believe about drugs and their consequences if plausible and relevant interventions are to be developed;
- regular programmes of ‘booster’ sessions should be included to reinforce any health gains;
- substances should be addressed independently of each other;
- programmes should be intensive, lasting 15 hours or more;
- programmes should have a mix of elements which could include social influence and skills training;
- messages should be credible to young people and not delivered by uniformed police officers;
- interventions need to focus on young people currently experimenting with drugs who may progress to regular use, or use of other substances (this is difficult to address in schools).
• Web Sites
The Institute for the Study of Drug Dependence, an independent organisation to provide objective, accurate and current information on all aspects of drug use. www.isdd.co.uk/
Drug Prevention Advisory Service http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/dpi/dpiinf.htm
HEA’s drug prevention campaign website aimed at young people http://www.trashed.co.uk
Brannan J., Hurry J. (1993) Drug Education Thomas Coram Research Unit
Bristol Area Specialist Health Promotion Service (1996) Drugs – a journey through a minefield. Internal position paper from the HIV/Sexual Health Team.
Coggans, N., Shewan, D., Henderson, M. and Davies, J. 91991). Could do better – an evaluation of drug education Druglink September/October 14-15.
Cohen, J. 91996) Drugs in the classroom – politics, propaganda and censorship. Druglink March/April 112-14.
De Haes, E. and Schuurman, J. (1975) results of an evaluation study of three drug education methods. International Journal of Health Education. Supplement to Vol. Xviii, Issue No. 4, October-December, 1-16.
Hawthorne, G., Garrard, J. and Dunt, D. (1995) Does life Education’s drug education programme have a public health benefit? Addiction 90, 205-215.
Health Education Authority (1997) Health promotion effectiveness reviews Summary bulletin 5.
Health Promotion Research Programme (1997) Effects of Drug Education on School Leavers, Briefing Review No 5. Health Promotion Research Programme: Bristol.
Keene, J. and Williams, M. (1996) Who Dares Wins? Drug prevention and the police in schools Druglink March/April 16-18.
Mounteney J., Olver L, Shapiro H. (1994) Sexually challenged: drug agencies and safer sex advice for young people Health Education Journal 53, 385-396.
Quinn, L. (1996) Mobilising parents Druglink March/April 9-10.
Schaps, E., Di Bartolo, R., Moskowitz, J., Palley, C. and Churgin, S. (1981) A review of 127 Drug Abuse Prevention Programe Evaluations. Journal of Drug Issues Winter 17-43.
Young, M., Kersten, C. and Werch, C. (1006) Evaluation of a parent child drug education program Journal of Drug Education Vol 26 (1), 57-68.