Prevention Saves Lives: Why Red Ribbon Week Still Matters

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By Youth First Staff, Youth First, Inc.

Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug use prevention campaign in the nation, reaching millions of young people each year. This event takes place annually from October 23 – October 31. According to Red Ribbon Week’s official website, this event is an ideal way for communities to unite and take a visible stand against drug misuse.

Red Ribbon Week was started when drug traffickers in Mexico City murdered DEA agent Kiki Camarena in 1985. This began the continuing tradition of displaying red ribbons as a symbol of intolerance toward the use of drugs. The mission of the Red Ribbon Campaign is to present a unified and visible commitment towards the creation of a Drug-Free America.

National Family Partnership is the sponsor of this annual celebration. They are helping citizens across the country come together to keep children, families, and communities safe, healthy, and drug-free through parent training, networking, and event sponsorship.

You might ask, “Is Red Ribbon Week effective?” According to Peggy Sapp, President and CEO of National Family Partnership, Red Ribbon Week has endured for over thirty years due to the following factors:

  • Red Ribbon Week is an environmental strategy, which means it doesn’t just affect a small group but reaches beyond schools, churches, and other groups into the broader community.
  • Red Ribbon Week is designed to be an awareness campaign that gets information to the public about the dangers of drug use.
  • Red Ribbon Week facilitates conversations about activities that will help rebuild a sense of community and common purpose.
  • Red Ribbon Week helps parents and schools deliver an effective drug prevention curriculum.
  • Red Ribbon Week is positive and fun, two things necessary to maintain good mental health.

Schools can benefit from curriculum available on the official Red Ribbon Week website, Incorporating substance use prevention education into daily health/physical education classes is an ideal way to bring awareness to students and promote prevention.

Parents can access the website for great ideas about talking to children of any age about the dangers of substance use. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “children really hear their parents’ concerns, which is why it’s important that parents discuss the risks of using alcohol and other drugs.”

Drug misuse in this country has reached epidemic stages and it is imperative that visible, unified prevention education efforts by community members be launched to eliminate the demand for drugs. Please join Youth First this Red Ribbon Week as we promote the importance of educating our children, families, and communities about the dangers of substance misuse.