Drug abuse preven
tion campaigns were once fodder for parodies and spoofs. Remember the public service announcement with the egg frying in a pan? And the “Just Say No” campaign with its pep rally-like student assemblies? Now educators are taking a fresh tack, and they’re being helped by a curriculum created by Chapman University Professor Michelle Miller-Day, Ph.D.
Miller-Day and a colleague from
wrote “keepin’ it REAL,” a program recently adopted by the 30-year-old international D.A.R.E. educational program. This school year D.A.R.E. introduced a modified version of “keepin’ it REAL” for use in fifth and sixth grades. The emphasis for the younger students is less on drugs, and more about coping tools, which are life skills that will serve children well in many ways and are building blocks for the “keepin’ it REAL” middle school course, Miller-Day says.
“Drugs aren’t the most salient things in kids’ lives at that point,” says Miller-Day, a professor in the
Department of Communication Studies
. “The idea with the fifth-graders is much more about healthy decision-making.”