Sweatpants and Jerseys Fight drug abuse

Is Red Ribbon Week effective?

By Srija Srinivasan | Staff Writer

As adolescents, we are often told to do things without knowing exactly why. We fail to understand the general applications of our day-to-day actions. While doing homework we often ask ourselves, “Why am I even learning this stuff? I won’t even need it in the real world.” We don’t see the point in what we’re doing, but we’re used to doing it blindly for college, for our parents, or simply because we are told to do so.

We follow traditions as a group without seeing the main purpose behind our actions. When we are kids, our parents tell us “Don’t waste your food! There are starving children in (insert third world country here).” But it doesn’t take long before we wonder how finishing our own meals helps anyone else. For Red Ribbon Week, we all dress up on the designated days and attend the lunchtime activities, but do we really understand that it’s an awareness campaign against drug abuse? How does dressing up on three days out of the week help anyone learn about drugs?

ASB advisor Mr. Willer says that while more direct approaches concerning drug abuse would be beneficial, having assemblies outlining the harmful effects of drug abuse wouldn’t be worth it.

“I don’t really know about the effectiveness of doing assemblies because I question the motives of most people that come. Most people that come just want to miss class, and so is the message really getting to them? I don’t know,” said Willer.

He explained that Red Ribbon Week is a more effective measure to take preemptively in elementary schools because it’s easier to prevent drug abuse before kids have tried it. This is likely where the dressing up idea came from. However, it’s easier to get kids to dress up than it is to convince teens not to do drugs. So the best approach seems to be continuing the tradition while implementing some ways of reaching out to students.

“It’s very difficult to get teachers to give up valuable class time to incorporate it,” he said. “But with the Common Core, it’d be neat to see English classes using literature based off of information from drugs, or having it appear in your classes as well. An example would be having a science class looking at lung decay in smokers vs nonsmokers.”

Because drug abuse is always an apparent issue, it’s important for us to stay united. Common approaches like assemblies and pamphlets aren’t always helpful. So we need to make these subjects serious concern of our lives as students. Whether we all dress up or not, we must all work together to learn about the dangers of abusing alcohol and drugs of any kind, because behind all of the cheerful excuses, it is a major issue. It is our duty to take this seriously. Not for classes, college, or because someone said so, but for our own good.