A DECADE IN PREVENTION
There are risk factors and protective factors that can contribute to drug and alcohol use and other risky behaviors for youth. Prevention works to decrease the risk factors and strengthen the protective factors. Risk factors are influences in a young person’s life that increase the likelihood of engaging in negative or unhealthy behavior. Protective factors are those elements of a young person’s life that buffer, protect or insulate them from the development of negative or unhealthy behaviors. Understanding and identifying risk and protective factors helps communities to understand what they need to do to support youth to live healthier lives. BAPC’s work has been and will continue to be a data driven approach to address risk and protective factors in the community that influence substance misuse among young people.
There are some protective factors that BAPC has been addressing consistently over the last decade. Those protective factors are all about relationships. Although it may seem redundant, close relationships with parents, caregivers and other family members who are actively involved and who share clear expectations and boundaries around alcohol and other drug use are very important. Having supportive relationships with caring adults such as teachers, coaches, doctors or clergy who encourage goal setting, positive social development and who have high academic and behavioral expectations is also important as are relationships with peers or friends that support a substance free life style and have future plans.
The community also plays a role in providing protective elements to discourage substance use among young people. Laws need to be consistently enforced, and policies and norms need to encourage non-use of substances for youth.
As we approach high school graduation and times of change in the lives of youth, parents and other teen influencers can have a large impact on choices of whether to engage in risky behaviors such as substance use. Whether as a community we are looking at underage drinking, smoking, prescription drug misuse or heroin, the basic prevention approach can be applied across all substances. Talk. Listen. Support. Be an Influencer.
Source: www.reformer.com 9th June 2014