Real Life Issues Curriculum Infusion seeks to encourage student resilience and prevention. Research has demonstrated that care must be taken in selecting approaches to prevention. Approaches that appear to make sense may not be effective. For example;
  • Simply talking about the negative effects of an at-risk activity does not work as prevention. Most people appear to believe that at risk behavior is a problem for others, but not themselves. The problem behavior must be presented in such a way that students conclude they are at personal risk.
  • Bringing in a speaker who has recovered from negative life experiences may not have the desired prevention effect. For example, students may see a former drug addict, now recovered, well dressed and speaking to the class, as a demonstration that drug abuse does not interfere with later life success-it may even be a stepping stone to success. Young people are excellent observers, but they are not necessarily good interpreters of reality.
  • The best funded prevention program in the United States has been DARE which brought police into classes to talk about the dangers of drugs available in a community. Despite its popularity and substantial funding evaluation showed that DARE was not an effective prevention program. One problem is that, through DARE, risk taking students may have been tempted to try out new drugs they learned of but had not yet used. Another problem was that in communities where police community relations were strained, police were not the appropriate party to deliver prevention messages. Overall, the ineffectiveness of DARE was attributed to its failure to incorporate evidence based prevention strategies. Attempts to improve DARE's effectiveness involved incorporating evidence based prevention strategies into DARE's approach.
Research indicates five prevention strategies that can be effectively incorporated into classes and school-wide prevention programming. These five strategies are most likely to have a positive impact on students. In developing prevention curricula and school wide prevention activities it is critically important to incorporate one or more of these five evidence based strategies. The strategies are:
  1. Engaging students in community prevention,
  2. Promoting pro-social norms and behavior,
  3. Correcting misperceptions of norms (for example student exaggerations of the extent of binge drinking by peers),
  4. Increasing the perception of personal risk, and
  5. Developing or enhancing life skills.
In the next three modules we will examine each of these five evidence based strategies.

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