In today’s contribution, Karin Streimann, senior specialist of child and adolescent health at the Estonian National Institute for Health Development, describes one of the activities that her Institute undertakes to improve the quality of school-based substance use prevention in Estonia. She also reflects on some of the lessons that she has learnt along the way.
According to Brotherhood & Sumnall (2011), many people wrongly believe that drug prevention means informing young people about the effects of drug use. In reality, the focus of drug prevention should be on strengthening protective factors and reducing risk factors associated with higher likelihood of substance use (National Institute on Drug Abuse 2010). As social contexts influence substance use (Galea, Nandi & Vlahov 2004), measures to influence the school as a social setting are an important part of substance use prevention. That could include a combination of activities such as increasing the school engagement and connectedness, partnership between school and parents and policies to reduce substance use.
However, it is still a common practice in Estonian schools to conduct lectures about the dangers of substances or to invite ex drug-addicts to schools to talk with children. Teacher’s relative lack of knowledge about what is effective in prevention and their personal experiences can offer some explanation to the current situation. Continue reading