The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at CU Boulder will be implementing the nation’s most successful drug prevention program in middle schools in 10 southeastern states, according to a CU News Center press release.
CSPV Blueprints Project director Sharon Mihalic spoke to the CU Independent about why the center was chosen to implement this program.
“We were selected because we have done this before,” Mihalic said. “We can do the program with integrity to the original model and with interest in sustainability.”
The three-year program, called Life Skills Training, is possible because of a $12.1 million grant from Phillip Morris USA, an Altria company based in Richmond, Va.
Mihalic said studies have shown that the program reduces the use of tobacco, drugs and alcohol by middle school students by 50 to 70 percent.
“There have been dozens of life skills training evaluations that have shown really good results with long term effects through the twelfth grade,” Mihalic said.
The states that are engaging in the program were selected because they have youth smoking rates that are higher than the national average, according to the News Center’s press release.
The press release also states that throughout Life Skills Training, students will learn self-management, creative problem solving, anger management, relationship building skills and normative skills.
Mihalic explained the significance of information pertaining to drug use rates that is provided to students through the training.
“It teaches students the real rates of drug use,” Mihalic said. “A lot of kids feel pressured because they think everyone is using drugs when, in fact, most people are not using drugs.”
Mihalic said that along with resistance refusal techniques, another important part of the program is teaching kids how to set goals, cope with anxiety and engage in group activities.
Anthony Caselli, a 21-year-old junior finance and management major, said he is skeptical of the program’s actual effectiveness.
“You’re taking away school time to give these kids anger management classes,” Caselli said. “I’m sure they all love getting out of class to goof off.”
Other CU students have said they are more hopeful that the program will be successful at dissuading young students who may be likely to consider smoking, drinking or using drugs.
Julie Wattier, a 21-year-old senior communication and sociology major, said she thinks it is important to target student populations that are at high risk.
“If these states have high prevalence of drug and tobacco use, then it is exciting that someone has finally implemented a program that is proven to work,” Wattier said.
The Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence will monitor the effectiveness of the program in participating schools and publish the results of its research, according to the News Center’s press release.
Wattier said she is looking forward to seeing the results the training program produces.
“We had a similar program when I was in middle school that I didn’t think was very effective,” Wattier said. “I am really excited to wait and see the results.”
Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Lindsay Gulisano at Lindsay.firstname.lastname@example.org.