Contributed by Neiha Bansal, Consultant (Communication & Advocacy), Project IND/G86
Students perform a small skit on drug abuse prevention
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime conducted the
school drug abuse awareness programme with 45 nodal teachers from the DPS Society in Delhi. This programme is part of a process to achieve one goal- self empowerment through one message- 'I Decide- I will not take drugs'.
All teachers and students of the DPS schools believe that the programme was an enormous success. A teacher facilitator from DPS has aptly summed up saying,
"The Drug Abuse Awareness programme in our schools is most appropriate as it is aimed at the adolescents who are consumed with curiosity and tend to experiment with the unknown not realizing the potential threat. I would like to thank DPS and UNODC for initiating such a programme in our school."
Teachers reported that the programme helped to start an important dialogue on drug abuse prevention with students. A dialogue essential in the light of growing vulnerabilities to drug abuse but not adequately addressed by the current education syllabus.
"The Drug Abuse Awareness Programme was a great learning experience for me. As a teacher I was a little hesitant to discuss this topic with students due to lack of material. Now I feel that I have empowered the children to some extent. I am proud to be a part of this program", said a teacher. Many also believe that the programme helped them to identify core insights that link with drug use choices among youth, something they would never have known otherwise.
Students were engaged in interactive activities to increase knowledge and to clarify important
myths pertaining to drug abuse prevention. Significant of these was establishing an important link between
drug abuse and HIV/AIDS.
Teachers reported a visible change in attitudes towards drug use among the students. They are more willing to come forward and talk about drugs openly, reporting incidents of drug use in their communities. Many students also admitted that they have become more vary of experimenting with drugs after the programme. They felt that they now have a better understanding of the ingredients and the
harmful effects of drugs. They also realize how to trust their own abilities to make correct choices and how they could have a good time with friends by doing other things. A student of DPS said,
"Apart from learning about the long term harms caused due to drugs. We have learnt how important it is to be self-opinionated. We now know how to recognize a 'true friend' and to stay away or try to improve the habits of a friend who has succumbed to the temptation of drugs."
Students join in to spread the message of drug abuse prevention to all
'I Decide' clubs have been started by all DPS schools in great earnest. Some of these clubs even reported a membership of 300 students. Students have come together in pledge not only to abstain from drug use but to spread the message to their peers in other regions as well. A great achievement of the programme and a huge stride towards ensuring that more youth do not succumb to drug abuse.
Today, the Delhi Public Society stands as an example for all other schools. They have taken the lead to uphold the baton of
'I Decide- I will not take drugs', as a perpetuating value for its students to follow. UNODC is certain that with similar strides, many more lives will be touched by the drug abuse prevention message, ensuring a productive future for all.
"Initially, when I started teaching the module, children used to say, "Why this topic? We don't do drugs" but later they said, "Why not this topic". They were so interested." - Teacher facilitator from DPS.
"Through the activities of the programme children learnt about delaying techniques, negotiation skills and refusal techniques which I believe will always help them." - Teacher facilitator from DPS.
"Earlier I had just heard the names of some drugs but only now did I realize the long term effects on the body. I was horrified! Previously, I thought it was alright if one takes drugs a couple of times and then one can leave them. But now I understand, getting in is easy but getting out is very, very difficult and that too without medical help." - Senior student of DPS.
"I learnt that drugs don't hurt only me. When people take drugs, they hurt their friends, family and people around them. …if my friends take drugs, I will try to get them the help they need. I would tell an adult." - Middle school student of DPS.