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Counseling » Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week


We will have a variety of activities and learning opportunities for students to participate in. The Red Ribbon symbolizes the commitment to a healthy, drug free lifestyle. This celebration is building the bridge from awareness to action. We can all be bridge builders!
Look at the information below for activities that you can do at home. Really encourage your child to participate in the spirit days and make sure to talk to them each day to ask what they learned or did at school. Let this week be a spring board for meaningful conversations at home about the importance of staying drug, tobacco and alcohol free!


The week is celebrated in honor of Enrique Camarena who was a Federal drug enforcement officer and was killed by drug traffickers while being held hostage in Mexico in 1985. The National Family Partnership started the first Red Ribbon Week in 1988. The Red Ribbon symbolizes the commitment to a healthy, drug free lifestyle. Although some illicit drug use has declined, marijuana and underage tobacco and alcohol use are rising at alarming rates. Now more than ever, we must continue to wage the war on drugs. It is believed that change starts at home with oneself, and that each person that makes this commitment is making progress on the war against drugs. The Red Ribbon Celebration is building the bridge from awareness to action. We can all be bridge builders!
Kids aged 4-12 aren’t ordinarily into hard-core drinking, drugs, or smoking- though it happens. According to the White House Drug Abuse Policy Office, children feel pressure to use drugs and drink alcohol by the fourth grade. The average age for trying alcohol is age 11. The average age for starting smoking marijuana is 12. The best armor we can give our children is good selfesteem. If children feel loved and valued, if they know their own feelings and opinions matter, they won’t need to try to feel good with the use of artificial substances. They will trust their own good judgment and have the inner strength to withstand the peer pressure.


Choices: This is a very important idea for children. Making choices provides a child the opportunity to make decisions that will yield certain consequences. Help children start to practice and realize what their choices are and what the possible consequences might be. When the situation is appropriate allow them to make choices at home, i.e. what clothes to wear, what they would like for dinner, which book they would like to read, etc. Children feel empowered when they are able to make choices. This will allow them the experience and confidence to make more challenging choices when you are not right there.
Peer Pressure: Peer pressure can best be described as a friend trying to persuade other friends to participate in certain act. This can be very subtle and/or silent at times. Children want to feel that they belong and are part of a group, so often they feel that it is necessary to participate in activities to be accepted. Our job is to teach children that their self worth is determined by how they as individuals see themselves, not by what others think of them.


  • Ask your child to pay attention to some of the choices they make during the day. Ask what the situation was, what they chose to do, what the consequences were, what else they could have done and what the consequences might have been for the other choices. Use hypothetical situations to role-play possible situations of peer pressure to help them build their confidence and a few “pat” answers to say in uncomfortable situations.
  • Educate yourself on the harmful effects of the “gateway” drugs:  tobacco, alcohol, and marijuana. It is important for you to be a credible source of information for your child to talk to. If you do not know the answer to a question tell them that you will find it out and share with them after. It is never too early to begin discussing these issues. You can begin talking about the dangers of bad drugs as early as kindergarten, gradually providing more information as your child is able to understand it. For older children begin to explain the laws about underage drinking, smoking and illicit drug use. Make sure they understand what the consequences can be. Older children can handle and understand information about the effects of using drugs and alcohol and how it impairs their judgment and functioning. Real life examples can really get the message across. Research shows that the age of experimentation starts younger and younger when kids have the feeling and belief that they are invincible.
  • Keep the communication lines open between you and your child. Make sure that your child feels comfortable to come and talk with you about anything. Open communication develops family unity, self-confidence, and decision-making skills. Listen to what your child is saying and ask open ended question (not questions that can be answered with yes or no).  Most conflicts and crisis’ result from a lack of communication.
  • Give lots of praise. Emphasize things your child is doing “right” instead of focusing on the negative as much. When parents are quick to praise instead of criticize, children learn to feel good about themselves, and they develop the self-confidence to trust their own judgment.
  • Be aware of the outside influences your child is exposed to through television and friends. Talk with them about what they are seeing and ask questions about how they feel and what they think.
  • Have clear and consistent behavior rules and expectations. Let them know what the consequences will be if they choose not to follow them and enforce them. Try not to make promises or discipline guidelines that you can not keep. At an early age, explain the family rules about drugs and alcohol.
  • Know who your children are friends with. Meet their parents and get to know what their values are. Have their friends over so you can get to know them.
  • Promote positive, active alternatives for your children to participate in.  Help them discover activities that are fulfilling. Again children need to feel included and that they belong to a group. Children that do not belong to positive groups often find themselves taken in by the groups that are not making positive, healthy choices. Children need structure; children left with too much free time, not enough supervision or structure are more at risk of making poor choices.
  • Evaluate your own habits and your own ability to “say no” to adult peer pressure. The “do as I say, not as I do” philosophy does not work. Remember that you are a role model in everything you say and do. Children often imitate our behaviors. Therefore, nothing is more convincing than teaching by example.
  • Don’t be naïve to think that your child would never use drugs or would have to make these choices. Almost all children are faced with the difficult choice eventually. Just some are sooner than others. Even if the choice is postponed until they are of legal age for tobacco and alcohol, we want to have instilled in them healthy habits and a respect for themselves to make good choices all through their life.