Red Ribbon Week Provides a Teachable Moment

Red Ribbon Week Provides a Teachable Moment
Posted on 10/22/2015

by Carrie Sterrs, Coordinator of Public Relations and Special Programs


Each year in October, one week is dedicated to educating children about the dangers of harmful decisions. Worcester County Public Schools will be joining school districts across the nation next week in celebration of Red Ribbon Week.

Since its inception in 1985, the Red Ribbon Week program has worked with schools to educate students about the devastating effects drugs and alcohol can have on a person’s life. Schools all across Worcester County will be holding a series of events to get students excited about their futures and how saying no will keep them on their path to success.

Events like “Red Out” Day, in which students wear red, “Turn Your Back on Drugs”, in which students wear their t-shirts backwards, “Team Up to Say No”, which invites students to wear their favorite sports team apparel, are all examples of how students are demonstrating their support of the campaign.  While these events are bringing awareness to the campaign, our teachers and staff are capitalizing on students’ excitement by incorporating the notion of college and career readiness throughout their Red Ribbon Week lessons. Many schools are holding “Dress for Success” days to help students choose and focus on their future career goals, while other schools are infusing literacy and other curricula into the campaign.

In addition to substance abuse prevention and in response to a national rise in bullying statistics, Worcester County has also incorporated an anti-bullying campaign into Red Ribbon Week. Just as we encourage our students to make good choices in relation to substance abuse, we also strive to cultivate and maintain a safe and supportive climate for all students.

With one in three students reporting being bullied weekly in schools across America, administration across WCPS felt it was essential that we incorporate October’s National Bullying Prevention Month into a high profile week like Red Ribbon Week.

This year’s theme for Red Ribbon Week is “Respect Yourself. Be Drug Free.” While Worcester County educators are reinforcing this theme, we encourage parents to use this week as a teachable moment. According to the National Family Partnership, children of parents who talk to their teenage children regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t.

It is our hope that the Red Ribbon Week activities held throughout our schools will provide parents with a window of opportunity to begin these conversations with children of all ages.  Here are a few tips to help guide parents in these curcial conversations.

  • Seize the moment. Take advantage of any opportunity to talk to your kids.
  • Listen more than speaking. Encourage your child to talk to you by listening to them without overreacting when they open up to you.
  • Ask your child what he/she knows. Use open-ended questions, and let them answer fully before responding.
  • Use current events such as television shows or news reports as a conversation starter.
  • Give your child words or phrases to use with their peers if propositioned with substance abuse.

To learn more about Red Ribbon Week, or any of the substance abuse prevention or anti-bullying programs offered by Worcester County Public Schools, please contact me at (410) 632-5092.