Topic 2 Considerations for an effective PI for schools

  • Restrict substances in the school environment
  • Reduce or exclude access to substances in the school environment
  • Create a safe feeling among students and promote a positive and healthy inclusion in the school system
  • Support students rather than punish them in case of alcohol use.
  • Universal: They address entire populations, to give young people the social competencies to avoid or delay initiation of alcohol use.
  • Selective: They address specific groups, who are more likely to develop alcohol use or dependence, often because they have fewer social ties and resources.
  • Indicated: They target individuals with behavioural or psychological problems that predict a higher risk of alcohol use problems later in life, for example counselling young alcohol users.

Most of these interventions seek to reduce risk factors for alcohol use at the individual level, whereas other interventions also address social and/or environmental risk factors.

Evidence showed that not all interventions were successful. However, the findings suggest that the following elements are essential to developing and implementing effective school-based alcohol prevention interventions (Stigler, Neusel and Cheryl, 2011):

  • The interventions are theory-driven, with a particular focus on the social influences model, which emphasises helping students identify and resist social influences (e.g., by peers and media) to use alcohol.
  • The interventions address social norms around alcohol use, reinforcing that alcohol use is not common or acceptable among youth.
  • The interventions build personal and social skills that help students resist pressure to use alcohol.
  • The interventions use interactive teaching techniques (for example, small group activities and role-play) to engage students.

Next, a very important consideration to have in mind at the time of designing the preventive programmes is that those should not focus on the alcohol itself rather than on the students.

Furthermore, the environment that children and adolescents act should be supported and act as an example for them (parents, teachers, etc.). The same should happen with the children and the students themselves by empowering their skills and their personalities.

Bibliography (European Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drugs Addiction, 2019) suggests that a school should follow the below steps to design, implement, and evaluate a preventive intervention.

Needs assessment

Preliminary hypothesis and content setting

  • Target group
  • Definition of general and specific goals
  • Definition of functional goals
  • Formulation of indicators

Definition of necessary sources

Evaluation

Implementation

Feasibility check

Definition of funding sources

Source: Antidrug Council of Cyprus (2020).

This tool can also aid in aligning team members to the larger end goal and help them understand their role in achieving it.

Setting up a theory of change is like making a roadmap that outlines the steps by which a school plans to achieve a certain goal in terms of preventing problematic alcohol use.

This is not a specific tool developed for this field, but it can be useful in organising an intervention as a school unit. It can also help a teacher to plan what they want to achieve in class and plan the relevant lessons.

Suggestions:

  1. Start by noting down the main problem you want to solve, and also your long-term vision on the change you want to accomplish.
  2. Then complete the other boxes, such as your key audience and your entry point to reach that audience. Try to be as specific as possible because it will help you to come up with more effective actions that you can take.
  3. Work outwards from your defining problem, and towards your long-term impact.
  4. Write down the people that are most affected by the issue that you’ve identified and who you hope to help with your work – this could be a small community group or a large organisation.
  5. Then think about where to begin your work, you may need to find a place, a person or a thing that will be your first port of call.
  6. Then think about where to begin your work, you may need to find a place or someone who can assist you with planning the intervention.
  7. Try to think of some practical steps that you can take to make changes – like creating partnerships or making tweaks to existing processes.
  8. Try to keep these as action-oriented as possible. And finally, what would the immediate results or outcomes be? These could be tangible results that you can show to other people to clarify how your work is making a difference. List the key outcomes that your activity would lead to these are the preconditions that you need to realise your vision. As you fill each of the boxes in the worksheet, it is critical to also reflect on the key assumptions that underpin these steps in your work. This may help you to spot potential risks or connections between the different projects.

Here, all relevant stakeholders can be trained deeper on this theory.

I want to clarify my priorities, by defining my goals and the path to reach them…

Theory of Change Template, adapted and retrieved from https://diytoolkit.org/tools/theory-of-change/

  1. Why – Why are we doing this programme? This question will allow you to acknowledge the benefits that the event is to deliver, which will allow you to deliver an event that will satisfy your audience and stakeholders.
  2. What – What do we do? This is the first question you ask when you’re trying to gather requirements for your programme and define the scope.
  3. Who – Who are your stakeholders, team, students/attendees that will work on, sponsor and ultimately benefit from when your programme is completed?
  4. When – When the programme will take place? You need to know why what and who will be part of your programme before you can adequately answer when it will happen.
  5. Where – Where will the programme take place? Where will it be delivered?
  6. How – Which practices, methods and tools are necessary for the programme to happen?

Which are the needs of your class/school? Plan an intervention using the Theory of Change scheme or the Problem-solving questions tool.

Children younger than 10 years of age

Linking the Interests of Families and Teachers (LIFT)

Description of methodology:

It was designed to address two factors that put children at risk in terms of aggressive and antisocial behaviour and delinquency:

a)aggressive and other at-risk social behaviours with teachers and peers at school and

b)certain parenting practices, including inconsistent discipline and not a careful supervision.

The target group of this intervention was children within the elementary school setting, and specifically first graders (6-7 years) and fifth graders (10-11 years). The programme was designed for children and their families living in at-risk neighbourhoods.

During the whole programme, there was a special “LIFT line” in each classroom (a phone and an answering machine) that was supporting the communication among teachers and parents. Both sides were using this line, to share concerns, record messages about class activities and exchange.

The programme had three main components of intervention:

1)The classroom-based child social skills training, was delivered in 20 one-hour sessions during 10 weeks. Each session included:

a) classroom instruction and discussion about specific social and problem-solving skills,

b) skills practice in small and large groups, 

c) free play in the context of the GBG group cooperation game, and

d) review and presentation of daily rewards. 

Parts a, b and d were taking place in the classroom and part c, on the playground. The curriculum was similar for all students, but it differed in delivery format, group exercises, and content emphasis according to the student’s age.

2)The playground Good Behaviour Game (GBG), was taking place during the above training with the purpose to encourage positive peer relations on the playground.

While playing, rewards were gained by children that had shown positive problem-solving skills and other positive behaviours with peers. These rewards, even individual, were counted for rewarding the entire group or class. There was a point system used to discourage negative behaviours.

3)The parent management training, was conducted for 10 to 15 parents, and consisted of six weekly 2½-hour sessions, after school or in the evenings. The themes were: positive reinforcement, discipline, monitoring, problem-solving, and parent involvement in the school.

Outcomes of evaluation of the programme:

  • Child Physical Aggression: Reid and colleagues (1999) found that before the intervention, children in control and intervention groups exhibited an average of 6.0 aggressive physical behaviours on the playground during recess each day. After the intervention, children averaged 4.8 aggressive behaviours while the control group participants averaged 6.6 a day!
  • Substance Use Initiation: DeGarmo and colleagues (2009) found that the LIFT youths, compared to the control group, showed a 10% reduced risk of initiating tobacco use and approximately 7% reduced risk of initiating alcohol use by 12th grade (15-16 years); both were significant results.