New UNODC project will strengthen family ties to prevent drug abuse
28 February 2013 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has just signed a partnership in Brazil with the National Secretariat of Policies on Drugs (Senad), the State Secretariat of Justice (Sejus) and the State Secretariat of Social Development and Income Transfer (Sedest) of the Federal District to launch a pilot project that brings together families, schools and communities to promote the well-being of children through the strengthening of family ties.
The project will be launched in four social assistance centers in the Federal District, where about 160 families will participate in weekly sessions of group dynamics during two months. "This methodology is focused on working with families, and in other countries it was developed in schools. However, in Brazil we identified with our partners that it would be interesting to do a pilot project with vulnerable families that receive social assistance from these centers", explained Nara Santos, coordinator of UNODC's health and development unit in Brazil.
Divided in groups of up to ten families, the participants will eat a meal together and do activities that involve drawing, singing and playing games. By stimulating the interaction between parents and children and also between families from the same communities, the project aims to reinforce family relationships to boost children's development and prevent risky behavior later in their lives, such as drug abuse and violence. The group sessions will also approach the issue of drug abuse and will be led by a team of social assistants, teachers and members of the community.
"This is only one of many methodologies that form UNODC's global program for developing family skills, as part of its strategy to prevent drug abuse. The pilot project is the first initiative but we are already in talks with partners to bring other methodologies to Brazil, including some aimed at preventing drugs in schools", said Santos.
The pilot project's methodology has already been implemented in eight countries, including Kazakhstan and the Philippines. Evaluations with more than 2.000 families showed high retention rates (about 80% of participants went to all group sessions) and results such as increased sociability, improved academic performance and greater parent involvement in schools, as well as a decrease in conflicts, aggressive behavior and anxiety.
Last week representatives of UNODC and Senad visited the four social assistance centers in which the pilot project will be developed. "It is a program that works horizontally to empower communities. Its originality impressed us, it is a pioneer model that is very interesting and has already been tested and evaluated in other countries with great results", said Vladimir Stempliuk, Director of International Affairs and Strategic Projects at Senad.
According to him, if the pilot project is successful in the Federal District and shows positive outcomes, the methodology may be adapted to other states. "We would have the chance to disseminate this model systematically in Brazilian social policy. UNODC is also interested in taking this model to other countries in Latin America and, as Brazil is becoming a stage for great actions, this pilot project could be an important showcase", said Stempliuk.