This week is National Red Ribbon week, a time set aside for students to learn about the risks of drug and alcohol use. Created in the 1980’s, National Red Ribbon week began in order to create awareness in the U.S. of the dangers of substance abuse. It is known today that many violent acts are connected to substance abuse, and many people throughout the country are now working to stop that trend.
Red Ribbon Week History
In 1985 a Drug Enforcement Agent, Enrique Camarena was kidnapped and tortured because of his work against a Mexican drug operation. His community in California made a statement that year by wearing red ribbons while speaking out against illegal drugs. In 1987, Red Ribbon Week became a national campaign in order to educate others about the risks of drug and alcohol abuse.
Schools Take Part
Many schools across the country now observe Red Ribbon Week as a way to discourage students from using alcohol and drugs. Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) now helps out and sponsors many events in honor of this week. Ribbons are still worn, posters are made, fliers are handed out, and announcements are made at schools to create awareness for this week.
Schools use many activities to participate in this week, including pledges to be drug free, rallies, and special reminders for kids to stay away from drugs and alcohol. There are all sorts of ways schools and police departments can cleverly encourage kids to stay sober, including “fatal vision” goggles which simulate the disorientation of intoxication (1), or a “Too Cool for Drugs” day where kids are all encouraged to wear sunglasses to school (2). Still other schools choose to do a balloon release or bring in a guest speaker to motivate the youth.
Positive Peer Pressure
In a time when peer pressure can be very destructive to our students, it is important for kids to encourage each other to make the commitment to stay away from drugs and alcohol. If young people see that so many of their friends don’t use substances like drugs or alcohol, it will be easier for the individual teen to “just say no”.
With the rates of students becoming involved with drug and alcohol use at a high level, it is encouraging to see schools and student groups that are working to curb substance abuse among teens. Groups like SADD are nationally known for the positive influence they are providing for so many young people. Sometimes the message sounds different when it comes from a peer, rather than an adult who is constantly telling kids what not to do. When kids support each other and encourage healthy behavior among themselves, the results can sometimes be greater.
1) Jensen, Brenda Students Learn About Substance Abuse 10-28-2008 http://www.richmond-dailynews.com/news.php?id=2153
2) Richardson, Hamilton Well-known speaker kicks off Red Ribbon Week October 28, 2008 http://www.prattvilleprogress.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20081025/PROGRESS01/810250312/1041
3) Haas, Harrison Weeklong observance targets substance abuse October 28, 2008