Age appropriate messages when discussing drugs in the classroom

gradesch.JPG (27701 bytes)AGE

APPROPRIATE MESSAGES

Grade School

Youth

When attempting to help school-aged

children deal with a world that uses alcohol, tobacco and other drugs, consider the

following:

  • They are moving from total dependence on

    their parents to shared dependence with parents and peers.

  • They are very concerned and focused on their

    maturing bodies and respond to information about health, nutrition and exercise.

  • They tend to see things as either black or

    white; rules govern most aspects of their play and life.  Legality and morality have

    strong meaning for children this age.

  • They view people and messages as they want

    them to be, not necessarily as they are.  Tobacco and alcohol advertising often uses

    this “fantasy” appeal.

midsch.JPG (25331 bytes)Middle School

Youth

When attempting to intervene positively in

the lives of middle school youth, help them gain control of situations and not be

controlled by them, it is important to remember what motivates them.

  • They are often controlled by the moment,

    acting first and thinking about it later. What feels good at the moment can easily dictate

    the choices they will make.

  • They are keenly interested in their bodies

    and appearance, in how to become stronger or more attractive. This interest can provide a

    natural opening to teach them about the health hazards of alcohol, tobacco and other

    drugs.

  • They are big risk takers, quick to test

    limits, break rules and even flirt with death. They enjoy danger and often believe they

    are invincible.

  • They can think abstractly and are

    sufficiently aware of their own future to see the benefits of education and how their

    behavior can have long-term consequences.

  • They are beginning to see shades of gray and

    recognize that complex moral issues cannot always be defined in black and white. They are

    influenced more by their own ability to make moral judgments than by the opinions of

    those who have the power and authority to tell them what to believe and how to behave.

  • They are involved in their friendships. It

    is through friendships that they explore the world, test out ways of being and behaving,

    and acquire a sense of both belonging and identity. It is critical that parents, teachers

    and other adults help them learn how to develop healthy, positive friendships and reject

    friendships that are unhealthy.

  • They want to grow up, but they don’t

    always know how to do it successfully. They definitely need adults in their lives to

    answer their questions, help with their problems, and generally serve as models of

    healthy, responsible, mature behavior.

highsch.JPG (24907 bytes)High School Youth

Drug prevention messages must have a

foundation of accurate, factual information from which youth can draw conclusions about

the dangers and long-term effects of drug-use. Still, there are certain things educators

should keep in mind when communicating with high school students about substance abuse.

  • They need to continue learning and

    practicing how to resist peer pressure and to understand the valid reasons for saying

    “no” to risky behaviors.

  • They need to be allowed to make independent

    decisions and to assume responsibility for choices that affect them and others.

  • They need to see that, as citizens, they are

    responsible for making their communities better, safer places to live.

  • They like to explore different sides of

    issues, examine various interpretations and justify their actions as correct moral

    choices.

For more communication tips, consult ACDE’s

Faces

of Addiction School Activities Program.

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