Education and influence of the media

The most common anti-drug tools in the United States have become the education and efforts of the media. Traditionally, these programs are designed for adolescents and young people – the two most obvious risk groups. Recently, efforts have been made to extend their influence to children.
The school system is the ideal link for educational work regarding substance use. In fact, many states today require the inclusion of alcohol and other drugs in the school year, although state laws, unfortunately, have not been systematized and translated into accessible instructional programs. Moreover, in the past, the use of such programs has been hampered by the inadequate training of teachers in materials related to alcohol and other drugs. However, in recent years there have been many changes and school programs are becoming increasingly systematized. What happens when courses in alcohol and drugs are introduced? The results are different. The main result is that the general level of knowledge about alcohol and drugs has increased. However, there were no noticeable changes in substance use. In fact, in some cases, it was found that the educational program in the short term increased the use of drugs by students! One way or another, one should be wary of this data until more systematic studies are conducted on the effects of educational programs, especially studies on the long-term aspects of their influence. Although the expansion of knowledge about alcohol and drugs should not be seen only as a way to modify their use.
One of the factors that influences this development of cases is the age at which the study of drugs begins. As a result of data showing that young children have already begun to form their own concepts about intoxication, drinking culture and the consequences of alcoholism, more attention has been paid to educational materials for primary school children. Preparing materials for this level of development is more likely to be more effective than attempts to change more well-established ideas about drugs in high school. As an example of this, consider the attitude to smoking. When scientists wanted to determine the best age for the introduction of anti-smoking programs, they examined 500 students in 6th, 9th, and 12th grades in Massachusetts. The results showed that the greatest effect was in the 6th grades. The researchers had several reasons for this conclusion. The first of them is that only 6.5% of students in the 6th grade described themselves as random or regular smokers, the same was done in the 9th – 21% or in the 12th – 32%. Pupils of the 6th grades also showed less pressure to smoke from their peers than pupils of the 9th and 12th grades, less knowledge about tobacco and the consequences of its use and less awareness about the attitude to tobacco of their parents. In addition to this, many students said they were going to start smoking in the next five years. Thus, training in anti-smoking programs should give the most positive effect in this group of students.
Has to do with the above written and the growing role of parents, who should be models for their children. According to Du Ponto, Director of the National Institute for Combating Drugs: “Interestingly, after a decade of research on the role of parents that we performed, we are rediscovering today that parents, whom we considered ignorant at best and“ problem ”at worst, today They are “a solution to the drug problem.” Although this statement can be considered exaggeration, parents are still an important — and perhaps decisive — element in the prevention of drug use. The decade originates in the premise that the problem of drug use is a family problem. Programs focusing on the contribution of parents try to increase the role of family discussions of alcohol and drug problems so that parents can become a model for children by teaching them not to use narcotic drugs at all or Responsibly approach the use of acceptable drugs, such as alcohol.The meaning of one of these programs, called “The Power of Proper Education”, is to make parents aware of how deep ie the impact of having children on their behavior. Children, especially in the preschool period, directly copy the behavior of their parents when they are looking for a pattern suitable for the situation. The goal of the program is for parents to understand the ways in which they influence their children with regard to drug use and to help parents determine what constitutes “responsible behavior”, for example, in terms of drinking culture.
Educational programs are complemented by the media, i.e. through television, radio, newspapers, magazines, films and specials Printed materials intended for wide distribution, although television and radio are most often used for this purpose. Since media campaigns often consist of repetition of relatively brief messages (for example, 15-second TV spots), the creators of these campaigns usually use a single slogan that combines different material. Examples of the mottos of some modern campaigns are “Just Say No” for drugs and “Know When To Stop Enough”, “Friends Do Not Allow Friends To Drive In Drunk,” for alcohol. Most modern anti-alcohol campaigns are aimed at reducing drunk driving. It is not yet clear how effective such campaigns are, but it is clear that these programs contribute to the dissemination of knowledge about drugs in society. It should be especially noted that the campaigns to prevent drunk driving significantly raised the level of knowledge (for example, knowledge of the legislative definition of intoxication). But just as with other approaches, the attitude changes much less. One way or another, there is no direct evidence that as a result of media campaigns, there have been significant changes in the use of alcohol and drugs. Such an approach may be more successful in affecting specific groups of drug users. The use of education and the media still consumes the main resources for prevention. Their success is manifested mainly in the field of knowledge and to a lesser extent in changing attitudes. Their effectiveness increases as a result of improving the quality of production of advertising appeals, as well as efforts that direct these campaigns to specific social groups. And, of course, more effort needs to be made to increase the likelihood that these approaches will ultimately lead to real changes in drug use.

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