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Strategy: Promoting Drug-Free Social Events for Youth

Strategy Schools and communities reduce alcohol-related injuries and fatalities when they set and enforce drug-free standards at celebrations such . . .


Schools and communities reduce alcohol-related injuries and fatalities when they set and enforce drug-free standards at celebrations such as proms, homecoming dances, or graduation festivities.

Drug Problem Addressed

Many youth are able to resist using alcohol or other drugs except at parties and other celebrations that offer easy access to illegal or restricted substances. These events frequently lead to tragedy.

Key Components

Drug-free football-related social events, homecoming events, school dances, and graduation celebrations prevent injuries and deaths from driving by teens under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. Drug-free events can provide refreshments or full meals, band music, contests, and door prizes. Students can select, and schools and parents can sponsor, special outings such as sports parties, picnics, or other activities. The events should be well advertised in the school. Students who drink alcohol or use illegal drugs should be reported to school authorities or law enforcement officials.

Key Partnerships

Student events free of alcohol and other drugs result from the combined efforts of schools, parent-teacher groups, organizations such as SADD and MADD, student leaders, local business sponsors, the media, law enforcement agencies, parents, and participating youth.

Potential Obstacles

Even if most students are willing to attend drug-and alcohol-free social events, small groups of students may refuse to participate. Sometimes parents will undermine the school's efforts by providing beer or other alcohol in their homes at private parties. This is discouraged if parents are asked to sign a pledge that they will supervise parties and prohibit the use of illegal substances.

Signs of Success

In 1990 Nationwide Insurance Company initiated the "Prom Promise" campaign in Richmond, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Knoxville, Tennessee; and the Piedmont region of North Carolina. The campaign was organized by local youth but implemented with nationwide assistance. One hundred and sixty schools enlisted in the program, and more than 80,000 students signed a pledge to remain drug-and alcohol-free on prom night. In 1993, 2,600 high schools in eighteen states participated, and over one million students signed the pledge. In 1994, more than three million students in 3,300 schools in twenty-two states and the District of Columbia participated in the campaign.

Applying the Strategy

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sponsors Project Graduation, a nationwide program, begun in 1980, that has reduced driving-related injuries and deaths following graduation parties.

In St. Mary's County, Maryland, Project Graduation followed the realization that 83 percent of the deaths of young people were related to the use of alcohol or other drugs. The program was partially funded through fines paid by people arrested for substance abuse crimes. Now, all students sign contracts in which they agree not to consume any illegal substance during graduation festivities. A student who breaks the contract can be arrested and prosecuted. The students work with the school administrator, a state trooper, and an adult project coordinator.

Parents of students at Klein Forest High School in Houston, Texas, sponsor Project After Prom, which offers all-night, drug-free events featuring movies, auctions, or other activities. They also offer and organize transportation for midnight movies, sponsored by a local theater, after fall football games.


From 350 Tested Strategies to Prevent Crime: A Resource for Municipal Agencies and Community Groups

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