A School and Community Substance Abuse & Delinquency Prevention Model
A Proposal Submitted by
Fernando B. Perfas, Ph.D.
Addiction Training Consultant, New York, USA
April 19, 2018
Adolescents spend most of their waking life in school, interacting with teachers, peers, and school officials. After school a significant number continue to be engaged in extra-curricular activities. When they are home their time is dedicated to homework and chores to or their friends, among other things. In this day and age, it’s common in many homes for both parents to be employed in order to make ends meet. Their job, including the commute to and from work, consumes most of their time. For many, dinner is the only time when family members are able to come together to share and bond, and even that time is slowly disappearing. Changing times are leaving both parents and children with little time for meaningful interactions. And for many homes with one parent working as “overseas foreign worker,” who is away for most of the year or sometimes several years, children are left with a single caregiver who is often overwhelmed by the pressures of keeping a family together.
Needless to say, a significant number of youth grow up in less-than-ideal situations at home, and that number continues to grow. In addition to the common risk factors adolescents are already exposed to, these conditions contribute to feelings of isolation among youth who are without the safe and supportive environment of a normal home life. For those who live in homes where there is alcoholism and or drug abuse by a family member, these youth are confronted with even greater risk factors.
The My Home Away From Home Program is a prevention program designed to create a safe and supportive “community” in the school and community by fostering a family environment in homeroom classes, in essence a “home away from home.” Teachers and school officials will be trained on techniques adopted from the therapeutic community (TC) and modified to fit the classroom and school setting. Supportive components of the program includes parent and student leaders of the Parents, Students, and Teachers Association as parent facilitators and peer coaches.
Goals & Objectives
- To enhance social and emotional learning/development, and cultivate Emotional Quotient (EQ) among students through the Community Process, values seminar, group process, family dialogues, etc.
- To develop critical thinking through seminars, group process and discussions, problem-solving tasks, etc.
- To encourage personal and social responsibility through internal and environmental awareness via Community Process, seminars, self-help and mutual help, civic activities, family dialogues.
The cultivation of Emotional Development, Critical Thinking, and Personal & Social Responsibility are the pillars of this Prevention Model.
This prevention program is designed to be a holistic approach which includes the input and involvement of stakeholders within the school district. Instead of assigning the task of prevention and intervention mainly to the guidance & counseling staff, the model requires the teaching staff, administration, students, and relevant support staff and school and community organizations to play an active role in understanding and implementing the prevention program. The model borrows from the principles of “therapeutic community (TC)” and principles of “risk and protective factors of substance abuse.”
- Therapeutic Community or TC is a widely used model in the treatment of addictive disorders. As a drug treatment model, it has been successfully adopted in the Philippines since the 70s. Its defining feature is its self-help approach and the provision of emotional support by and among peers. It employs various group dynamics to create a community or family environment for members. It is close cousin to the Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous meetings A modified version of the TC has been successfully used in outpatient settings for people with substance use disorder (SUD) and those with mental illness, adolescents with SUD, women with SUD, prison inmates with SUD, probationers and parolees, etc.
- 2. Risk and Protective Factors of Drug Use and Abuse is a very effective and successful transdisciplinary drug prevention model that has been widely researched. It has been used in school and community prevention programs since the nineties. Although most data about its effectiveness are based on U.S. studies, the model has many transcultural elements that make it suitable for the Philippine setting.
The key concepts of the TC as applied in this model are:
- The creation and utilization of a socially supportive learning environment which consists of the student body, the teaching staff, and administration.
- The promotion of self-reliance and mutual support among students by encouraging the creation of a norms-and-values-driven classroom community.
- The teaching staff and school administration act as “role-models,” “rational authority” and “nurturing figures.”
- A “peer driven” process to address disruptive or other problem behaviors and provide emotional support.
- Helping others while helping one’s self.
- A ritual for building the spirit of “community” that involves the participation of students and teaching staff.
- A ritual for reinforcing positive behaviors through motivational incentives.
- Encouraging self-awareness or mindfulness, personal responsibility, responsible concern, team work, accountability, active participation, and self-reliance.
The risk and protective factors of substance abuse
- Risk Factors
- Factors associated with greater potentials for substance abuse
- Protective Factors
- Factors associated with reduced potentials for substance abuse
Risk and protective factors operate in a developmental risk trajectory path, which captures how risks become evident at different stages of a person’s life.
- Example: Serious aggressive behavior seen at a young age, if not controlled, can lead to additional risks when the child enters school, aggressive behavior in school can lead to rejection by peers, punishment by school authorities, and academic failure, if not addressed through preventive interventions, these risks can lead to problematic behaviors such as skipping school, association with drug using peers, etc. which can lead to drug dependence and anti-social behaviors.
Prevention programs are designed to strengthen protective factors and reduce risk factors long before problem behaviors develop.
Risk factors can influence drug abuse in several ways
- They may be additive
- The more risks factors the greater the likelihood of drug use
- Some risks factors may be potent, yet may not influence drug use unless certain conditions exist
- Example, having a family history of substance abuse, puts a child at risk, however, in an environment with no drug-abusing peers and strong anti-drug norms, the child is less likely to become a drug abuser.
- The presence of many protective factors can lessen the impact of a few risk factors.
- Example, strong protection â€“ such as parental support and involvement â€“ can reduce influence of strong risks, such as drug-using peers.
Early signs of risk that may predict later drug use
- Children’s personality traits or temperament can place them at increased risk for later drug use:
- Withdrawn and aggressive boys often exhibit problem behaviors in interactions with their families, peers, and others.
- If these behaviors continue, they may lead to other risks, such as academic failure, peer rejection, and later affiliation with deviant peers.
- Poor academic performance and inappropriate social behavior at ages 7 to 9 are more likely to lead to substance abuse by age 14 or 15.
The Role of the family
- Critical or sensitive periods in development may heighten the importance of risk or protective factors
- For example, mutual attachment and bonding between parents and children usually occur in infancy and early childhood. If it fails to occur during those developmental stages, it is unlikely that a strong positive attachment will develop later in the child’s life.
The Role of Environment Outside Home
- The quality of the child’s relationships in settings outside the home or family, such as school, friends, teachers, and the community, constitute the other risk factors. Some risks are:
- Inappropriate classroom behavior, such as aggression and impulsivity
- Academic failure
- Poor social coping skills
- Association with peers with problem behaviors, including drug abuse
- Misperceptions of the extent and acceptability of drug-abusing behaviors in school, peer, and community environments.
- Association with drug-abusing peers is often the most immediate risk for exposing adolescents to drug abuse and delinquent behavior.
- Other factors include drug availability, drug trafficking patterns, and beliefs that drug abuse is generally tolerated
- When children are outside the family setting, the most salient protective factors are:
- age appropriate parental monitoring of social behavior, including establishing curfews, ensuring adult supervision of activities outside the home, knowing the child’s friends, and enforcing household rules,
- success in academics and involvement in extracurricular activities,
- strong bonds with prosocial institutions, such as school and religious institutions, and
- acceptance of conventional norms against drug abuse.
Principles of therapeutic community and risks and protective factors of substance abuse
Using the principles of the therapeutic community to create the necessary context to apply the principles of risks and protective factors of substance abuse makes for a rational approach to drug abuse prevention. This strategy views substance abuse and other problem behaviors as symptoms of developmental challenges, exacerbated by familial, environmental, and personal risks factors. The home, school, community, and peer factors are important contributors to the developmental challenges of adolescents and young adults, conversely these can be harnessed as potential resources for prevention and intervention by using the right technology.
- Classroom/Community Activities
- Weekly Community Process during Homeroom (adopted from the TC’s Morning Meeting) facilitated by the Homeroom Adviser (HRA)
- Build classroom social structure and responsibilities
- Classroom Co-facilitators (2)
- Attendance and Activities Monitors (2)
- Peer Coaches (3)
- Define roles & responsibilities
- Assists homeroom adviser conduct Community Process
- Leads discussions
- Checks attendance
- Announces absences and reasons for missing class
- Schedules and conducts class seminars and activities
- Prepares the weekly agenda for the Community Process
- Provides peer to peer counseling and emotional support
- Assists peers who need academic help by finding peer tutors
- Facilitates crisis intervention/counseling or referral to guidance counseling office
- Attendance and Activity Monitor
- Peer Coach
- Establish classroom norms, values, and rules
- HRA facilitates formation of classroom norms, values, and rules through open discussion
- Explain “Community Process”
- Announcements and Updates
- Constructive Feedback
- Pull-up and Self Pull-up (violations of norms and rules)
- Push-up (commendations for positive behavior)
- Personal sharing and personal goals and commitments
- A community/classroom process of getting together
- The community rituals:
- Week One and Two
- Week Three
- Start weekly homeroom Community Process for the rest of the school year
- Monthly General Assembly facilitated by the School Principal (Begins on the first month of school year)
- Business Announcements and Updates
- Constructive Feedback
- Pull-up (behaviors of students that do not conform to the school/community norms)
- Push-up (behaviors that are commendable)
- Personal Goals and Commitments by students
- Awards or Commendations
- Monthly Parents’ Night (Begins on the first month of the school year)
A. Develop Prevention and Family Life Enhancement Activities
Some examples of activities:
- Basic Parenting (Communication, Nurturing, Behavior Boundary Setting)
- Effective communications
- Substance abuse awareness
- Self-care and personal health
- Psychological trauma awareness and prevention
2. Parent Support Group (for parents in distress)
3.Parent-Child Dialogue (crisis intervention)
4.Speaking Engagement within the community
5. School-wide projects
- Crisis Intervention/Counseling (by the guidance office or counseling staff)
- Individuals sessions
- Support Groups (for at risk students)
- Student Social Assistance (indigent students who have trouble getting to school)
- Training of Teaching and Counseling Staff, and Parent Facilitator (from Parent-Teacher Association or PTA)
- Two-day Prevention Program Overview
- Three-day Experiential and Didactic Training on the Prevention Model & Process
- Training of the Peer Coaches, Co-facilitators, and Attendance and Activities Monitors
- Three days didactic and experiential training on peer counseling, group facilitating, and conducting values seminars
Establish Baseline Data
- School incidents of drug use or sale
- Records of student disciplinary incidents (other than drug use)
- School attendance issues
- School fights, bullying, etc.
- Academic performance of identified high-risk students
- Any other pertinent data
Set an Appointment with Us
For training and access to modules. Feel free to contact us.