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Early drug prevention is priority

Thierry Kolpin, assistant professor of education, delivered an overview of drug prevention programs during his lecture on Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Prevention Monday in the President’s Dining Room. Kolpin said that government programs continue to improve upon the early successes of drug prevention models, including Scared Straight and the Drug Abuse and Resistance Education, or DARE, each of which helped improved awareness./ photo by Christopher Guzman

Thierry Kolpin, assistant professor of education, delivered an overview of drug prevention programs during his lecture on Alcohol, Tobacco and Drug Prevention Monday in the President’s Dining Room. Kolpin said that government programs continue to improve upon the early successes of drug prevention models, including Scared Straight and the Drug Abuse and Resistance Education, or DARE, each of which helped improved awareness./ photo by Christopher Guzman

Elsie Ramos
Staff Writer

The faculty lecture series on Monday featured Thierry Kolpin’s lecture, “Alcohol, Tobacco, and other Drug Prevention in the Third Grade.”

Kolpin, assistant professor of education, said he developed this program because the media for years has had anti-drug campaigns aimed toward adolescents.

He believes that prevention needs to begin in the early years of elementary school.

“Prevention in high school can just [end up being] an intervention,” Kolpin said. “It might be too late.”

Kolpin addressed the early drug prevention media campaigns that were started by during President Richard Nixon’s administration, and later pushed by Nancy Reagan, when she was first lady.

“Nixon started the ‘War on Drugs’ campaign, well we’re not winning this war,” Kolpin said.
“And ‘Just Say No’ was such a simplistic statement, but it didn’t work,” he added.

Kolpin also showed some TV commercials from the “Brain on Drugs” and “Not Even Once” prevention programs, but he found problems in the way these messages were portrayed.

“You can’t just address the individual, we need to address friends and family,” he said.

Kolpin said that the media is not going to change the behavior of our society, all it does is show us the direction we want to go in.

With the “Scared Straight” program, “at-risk” teens were taken to prisons to meet withmates face to face.

In these meetings the inmates would speak to these teens about the consequences of continuing down the dangerous paths they were on.

Kolpin said that people were really excited about the program because it sounded like a good idea, but in the end there was not enough data to prove that it was effective.

He also discussed the prevention program that is used throughout most of the country, the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or more commonly known as DARE.

Kolpin explained that in the late 1980s and early 1990s DARE was used in 80 percent of schools in the U.S.

Local police officers would go to schools and talk to the students about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse.

This program also did not show a positive outcome.

Even with signs of progress, Kolpin said that he felt that these drug prevention programs were starting too late, and that they needed to begin as early as kindergarten.

He decided that he was going to run an experiment, using the “Too Good for Drugs” program, on third graders.

Kolpin picked this program because it addressed all the factors he feels are necessary to get the message through to the students: school, community and family.

The program was broken down into 10, 40-minute weekly sessions, and each session included school, community, family, goals, outcomes and exercises.

In four of the tests that were given before and after exercises, one of the groups increased their knowledge and social skills.

Some of the questions were as simple as, “What if someone came up to you and offered you cigarette?”

All of the children said they would not take it, resulting in positive results.

There were some skeptics in the audience, who believed that the children were scared, and just saying what the adults wanted to hear.

There were also some skeptics, like Cal State Fullerton junior Josh Cuadra, who believe that the program doesn’t sound like anything new.

“I didn’t really see any differences from the DARE program,” Cuadra said.

Some on the other hand, believe that program is a good thing to invest in.

“It was shocking that drug use was even this existent,” Arnold Banuelos a freshmen computer science major, said.

“It sounds like a good program.”

Elsie Ramos can be reached at elsie.ramos@laverne.edu.

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