Two weeks ago I presented during two different “Wellness Days” sponsored by different Oklahoma school districts. My topics were safe online social networking, cyberbullying prevention, and Internet safety. At the end of the afternoon session when my presentation was over, a high school senior who had won a regional beauty pageant was given the microphone and provided with an opportunity to address 300+ eight grade students. Her message was short and clear: Make good choices, don’t use drugs.
I wonder how many of those students not only listened, but actually took her message to heart? I didn’t hear her say “don’t drink alcohol underage,” although I am sure the school counselors who organized the event would have liked her to say that. Role models ARE important, and I am not entirely discounting the potential value of having a local high school beauty pageant winner encourage other students publicly to “make good choices.” I do wonder about the potential for that short message to have a real impact, however.
Personally, I think short videos / advertisements like “Underage Drinking Prevention – Emily” from the US Ad Council could have a bigger potential impact on student thinking about alcohol consumption, abuse and addiction.
Following up a video like this with small group discussions seems like a more realistic way to encourage students to actually rethink their own perceptions and ideas of underage alcohol consumption, than simply listening to a beauty queen talk for sixty seconds about “good choices.”
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