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Keane, Martin (2004) The EDDRA column. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 12, December 2004 , p. 21.

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Welcome to the ninth EDDRA (Exchange on Drug Demand Reduction Action) column.  The aim of this column is to inform people about the EDDRA online database, which exists to provide information to those working in the drugs area on current demand reduction action across Europe, and to promote the role of evaluation in reducing demand for drugs. The database is co-ordinated by the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA). This column will focus on an Irish project recently added to the EDDRA database, the Killinarden Drug Primary Prevention Group. This project is a useful example of good practice in drug prevention activities in Ireland.

 The Killinarden Drug Primary Prevention Group (KDPPG) emerged in 1993 as part of a community-led response to what was perceived as an acute drug misuse problem in the Killinarden area of Tallaght. The KDPPG highlighted the lack of drug education programmes for parents and young people within the community and local schools. This often meant that young people who were exposed to drugs lacked proper information on the risks and consequences of using such drugs. The KDPPG took the innovative step of training local parents as facilitators to deliver drug education courses in local schools. The Group also acted as a support service to local families and community-based organisations seeking awareness on drug-related issues or wishing to address drug misuse within their particular setting. In drug prevention literature, the work of the KDPPG belongs to the category of selective prevention. These are interventions targeting specific at-risk areas and groups and are different from universal intervention which targets entire populations, e.g. whole school-going populations.

 Currently the KDPPG delivers drug prevention activities to third, fourth, fifth and sixth class students in three primary schools in Killinarden. Activities designed to enhance the self-esteem of third and fourth class students include a mixture of games, role-play exercises and quizzes. Students in fifth and sixth classes receive drug awareness education including information on different types of drugs and the consequences of use. A follow-up programme aiming to build on the self-esteem and drug education activities is delivered in Killinarden Community School to students up to third year of secondary school. From 1995 to 2003, an estimated 800 young people participated in the various school-based drug prevention activities.

 The work of the KDPPG was evaluated by Rourke (2003)1 using in-depth semi-structured interviews with KDPPG staff and management, with local parents trained as facilitators, and with teachers and young people. Evaluation included a number of on-site observations of programme delivery in local schools. The evaluation was process orientated, looking at the project’s implementation and how it was perceived among target groups. It also sought to assess the extent of awareness and understanding of the dangers associated with drug misuse among young being targeted by the intervention.

 The evaluation findings highlight what can be achieved when a community is motivated to respond to the challenge of drug misuse facing local families. The findings demonstrate that the KDPPG has designed and implemented a project that is well received by the target groups and legitimised by local teachers.

  • Parents trained as facilitators report improved parenting skills, increased knowledge about drugs and a perception that their work is making a valuable contribution to the prevention of drug misuse in their community. Many parents who were early school leavers report that the KDPPG was a key motivating factor in their returning to adult education.
  • Teachers report that young people interact with local parents in a more open and discursive way than they might relate to teachers or to external 'experts'. Local parents are seen as having the credibility to 'tell it as it is'. Teachers also report that local parents are professional, efficient, punctual and well prepared when delivering their presentation.
  • Young people are seen to relate well to the issues being raised by parent facilitators in the schools, for example, how young people perceive themselves, their experience of peer pressure and how to be assertive when offered drugs. In addition, young people have become more aware and more informed about the dangers and consequences of drug and alcohol misuse and many have become more assertive and seem less likely to succumb to peer pressure to use drugs. 

 The evaluator notes that contact made in schools between local parents and young people is continued and built on in the home and through interaction in the local community. For a high proportion of young people attending local schools, the consistent involvement with the KDPPG over a number of years serves to consolidate the central themes of drug prevention.

 Perhaps the most surprising and interesting finding from the evaluation is the extent to which young people engaged with local parents/facilitators in the classroom setting on such sensitive issues as self esteem and drug misuse. This is an important lesson for policy makers, school authorities and concerned parents to grasp. It shows that young people can trust and engage with local parents on sensitive issues providing that those parents have received appropriate training and are seen as credible in the classroom.

1. Rourke S (2003) Evaluation of Killinarden Drug Primary Prevention Group. Dublin: KDPPG.

More information on the Killinarden project and on other Irish projects on the EDDRA database can be obtained from the EDDRA website at http://www.emcdda.europa.eu/themes/best-practice/examples 

Item Type:Article
Issue Title:Issue 12, December 2004
Date:December 2004
Page Range:p. 21
Publisher:Health Research Board
Volume:Issue 12, December 2004
EndNote:View
Accession Number:HRB (Available)
Subjects:MP-MR Policy, planning, economics, work and social services > Programme planning, implementation, and evaluation > Programme evaluation
VA Geographic area > Europe

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