New project to prevent drug abuse focuses on families with teenagers
Brasília, 31 October 2013 - The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and Brazil's Ministry of Health finished this month the training of about 40 professionals, among them psychologists and educators, who will implement a new pre-pilot project to strengthen relationships in families with children between ten and 14 years old. The project's goal is to reduce stressful situations and conflicts within families, in order to minimize the risk of drugs and alcohol abuse.
Starting in November, two-hour meetings will be held every week on Saturdays in six units of the Social and Educational Guidance Centers (Cose, in Portuguese), which serve families with children and adolescents between seven and 17 years old in Brazil's Federal District, offering activities to promote the strengthening of family ties.
The first hour of the meetings is conducted with two separate groups of parents and children, while in the second half everyone comes together. Videos that portray potentially stressful everyday situations (for instance, children who lie about where they were or who refuse to do certain chores) are alternated with moments of discussion among the group.
The psychologist Marina Pedralho, who participated in the training, believes the project has the potential to be successful in Brazil: "The basis of the program is scientifically proven. I believe that ideally there would be a balance between giving love and setting limits, even if that is difficult for parents", she said.
Evaluations of the project's implementation in other countries have demonstrated that young participants are less likely to abuse alcohol, even four years after the intervention. Teenagers also had fewer problems in school compared with those who did not attend the sessions. Among parents, there is evidence of greater involvement with their children and improved family relationships as a whole.
The pre-pilot project is the result of a partnership between the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Brazil, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Social Development and Fight against Hunger and the State Secretariat of Social Development and Income Transfer (Sedest) of the Federal District. The Cose units in the regions of Ceilândia Norte, Gama Sul, Núcleo Bandeirante, Paranoá, Sobradinho and Taguatinga Norte will be the first to house the activities on a trial basis.
Family skills training programs in drug abuse prevention
The project's methodology is part of UNODC's global Family Skills program, which has reached more than 5,000 families in nearly 20 countries. The project will focus on young people between 10 and 14 years old, who are part of families served by Cose. The reason for this is to complement the activities of another project launched in August, which also implements a different methodology from the Family Skills program in the Federal District, but targeting children between two and five years old from families served by social assistance centers.