Drug usage at an early age can affect brain development and set students on a path of bad decisions. Educators who can talk to their students about drug use have the potential to change lives and keep their students safe. However, discussing drugs with children and teens can be tricky. According to recent research, these are the most effective ways of discussing drugs with students.
Avoid Scare Tactics or False Information
A few decades ago, the DARE program was the most common way of discussing drugs. This program included a lot of gruesome imagery and false statements about the dangers of various drugs. Studies on the effectiveness of this program showed it was quite unsuccessful. Students are smart enough to know when they are being misled, and they ended up dismissing true information because they assumed the whole program was exaggerated. Kids react better when their educators are open and honest instead. Saying, “Don’t do it” doesn’t work.
Explain How Drugs Really Work
Drug abuse flourishes in an environment filled with myths like “you can’t get addicted the first time you use a drug.” Teachers need to be willing to provide students with actual facts about drugs, especially the brain science behind drug use.. Explain how drugs work, the difference between various drugs, and how overdoses and withdrawals may be fatal. Honestly presenting information helps give children the facts they need to make smart decisions for themselves.
Be Frank and Upfront
Child psychology experts find that students do best when their teachers encourage open discussion on drugs. It is important to try to keep a caring, non-judgemental tone, so students can discuss drugs without feeling like they will get in trouble. By keeping an open dialogue on drugs, teachers ensure that students have someone they are comfortable talking to about potential challenges with drugs.
Incorporate Anti-Drug Messages into Multiple Classes
Teachers should not rely on an occasional week of “drugs are bad” messaging to get the point across. Instead, children absorb information more readily when it is presented gradually in a variety of methods. Consider discussing drug use throughout history in social studies classes, reading books about addiction in literature classes, or looking at drugs’ effects during science classes. Finally, providing real life stories of addicts are one of the best ways to help children understand the dangers associated with illegal drug use.