In the mid-1980's, rates of youth drug use were increasing across America. The preparing for the Drug Free Years program was created to equip parents with skills that they could use to prevent their 8 to 14-year-old children from becoming involved with drugs.
This Bulletin describes the program's history from its introduction in the public schools of Seattle, WA, in 1987 to the present. The program has been implemented in more than 30 States and Canada and has trained more than 120,000 families.
Drawing on research conducted by Drs. David Hawkins and Richard Catalan, the program targets risk factors for juvenile substance abuse such as inadequate parental supervision, poor parent-child communication, ill-defined expectations for children's behavior, family conflict, favorable attitudes toward youth alcohol and drug use by parents or siblings, and parental alcoholism or drug use.
Reducing such risk factors and maximizing protective factors in the family setting are crucial to counteracting negative peer influences that could expose children to the risks of drug use. The Preparing for the Drug Free Years program offers schools and communities a promising approach for achieving those ends.