A major part of a student’s life from upper elementary through college is maintaining the delicate balance between fitting in with their peers and being true to themselves. Teachers and parents share the responsibility of ensuring that these young people are armed with the right information and skills to make good decisions when the need arises. For the past two decades, school districts across the nations have been tackling issues of drug use and peer pressure by implementing drug use prevention programs like Project DARE. In this program, specially trained police officers present a curriculum beginning in the upper elementary grades. This curriculum aims to educate students to make smart choices if they are pressured to use drugs. Whether or not your school has this type of program in place, it is important for you to be able to include drug resistance education of your own if the need arises.
Students today are exposed to drugs, both legal and illegal, through the media and their peers. Kids might do things they might not really want to do just to look “cool.” Preparing students to deal with peer pressure is an important part of character education. There are some nice resources from Education World to help build these skills. Ten Activities to Improve Students' Self-Concepts and Students Teach Students: Using Student Essays To Build Coping Skills and Self-Esteem are both resources to keep in mind when you need to help your students recognize and deal with peer pressure.
Along with peer pressure, students are also persuaded by the many sources of media surrounding them. The use of drugs and alcohol is often glamourized in the media, which can be transferred into students’ own lives. One lesson from P.E. Central is a good example of allowing students to discover the impact of media for themselves. The activity, Assessing Media’s Influence Project requires students to find media clips involving particular drugs and assess the target of this influence. There are many more resources in media literacy on the Gateway that can help your students think more critically about what they are learning through the media.
Programs like project DARE present pictures or actual examples of different drugs and teach students what those drugs do to their bodies. Whether or not your students have participated in something like this, having questions answered honestly by a trusted teacher can have a huge effect on at-risk students. For a good overview and introduction to drugs, look at Deadly Highs: Substance Abuse, a well-planned middle school unit from Discovery Education. I like how the unit requires students to use their creativity to create a band, song, and album cover as an anti-drug campaign for a particular drug. Since the abuse of over the counter and prescription drugs is on the rise, it is also important to consider primary source resources such as Latest trend in drug abuse: Youths risk death for cough-remedy high, a special reprint edition from USA Today with discussion questions and activities.
Teachers are an important influence on students’ lives and decisions. The way we deal with topics like drugs in the classroom can have a huge impact on our students’ ability to make decisions that will be good for their future. I hope the steroid resources Joann featured this week and these drug resources will help you effectively teach about drug use and abuse.
~Peggy's Corner - 6/10/2011~