Red Ribbon Week | Awareness for prevention may not work

Red Ribbon

Red Ribbon Week is the last week of October. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The last week of October, since 1988, has been designated as national Red Ribbon Week. Red Ribbon Week is supposed to be a week of awareness about drug and alcohol abuse. Some argue, though, that Red Ribbon Week and similar events do not decrease drug abuse.

The history of Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week began in 1985, when undercover DEA agent Enrique Camarena was killed while working in Mexico. By 1988, Nancy Reagan and the National Family Partnership had created National Red Ribbon Week. Since then, National Red Ribbon Week has been a way to “show intolerance for illicit drug use.” Awareness of alcohol abuse is also often rolled into Red Ribbon Week events.

Red Ribbon Week activities

Red Ribbon Week in schools, churches and communities across the country includes a wide variety of activities. For a single day, or the whole week, many schools encourage wearing red ribbons and hold events against drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse. Many schoolchildren are encouraged to “take a drug-free pledge.” Drug prevention banners, candlelight ceremonies and rallies are all standard Red Ribbon Week activities. In short, Red Ribbon Week is about “bringing awareness” to help prevent abuse of drugs, alcohol and other illegal drugs.

Some question abuse prevention

Red Ribbon Week this year happens during an interesting time in the drug history of the United States. The California Regulate, Control, and Tax Cannabis Act is up for a vote in California just one week after Red Ribbon Week. It’s been proved that many drug use prevention programs, such as D.A.R.E., have not reduced drug abuse. Despite the fact that some school districts may have to take out no fax payday loans to pay for the program, they may actually increase drug abuse. Some question whether Red Ribbon Week or other awareness programs are bringing attention to a symptom, rather than the problem itself. The Surgeon General of the United States has categorized D.A.R.E. and other programs to prevent use of drugs via pledges and awareness as “does not work” programs.

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