Report on the Salt Lake City School District “SFP Health Class Initiative” to Reduce 8th Grade Binge Drinking
Using a Strengthening Families Program Home-Use DVD Intervention
(Result: 8TH grade Binge drinking declined 50% between 2011 and 2013)
The 2011 State Student Health and Risk Prevention Survey (SHARP) which is given to Utah students in school every two years showed very high alcohol use in the Salt Lake City School District — double the state average. Drinking appeared to begin in the 8th grade, as forty-two percent of 8th grade students reported using alcohol in their lifetime. 8th grade binge drinking rose from 9.5% in 2009 to 12.5% in 2011. This was three times the state average. Forty-one percent of students who drank reported that they got their alcohol from home with their parents’ permission.
- Because parents are the most significant alcohol prevention tool, the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Alcohol and Drug Coalition decided to target both parents and students via their 7th grade Health Classes. With assistance from the School District, and buy-in from the Health teachers, mandatory student+parent homework assignment were created for three of the SFP Home-Use DVD lessons. They were:
Introduction Lesson featured how the brain develops and wires and how to have a healthy brain through good nutrition, exercise, sleep, etc.
- Lesson 8 explains how alcohol and drugs damage the teen developing brain and hijack the brain’s Pleasure-Motivation system leading to addiction. It also teaches the three types skills parents need to help prevent underage drinking, which are Bonding, setting Boundaries, and Monitoring.
- Lesson 9 talked about the importance of choosing good friends and being a good friend to help each other stay alcohol and drug free, plus more Monitoring tips for parents to see that their teens always stay in an alcohol and drug free social environment.
Students were assigned to watch the three SFP DVD lessons with their parents at home and fill out and return a mandatory Homework sheet on each lesson. There was a student section and a parent section on each sheet, and a place for parents to sign that they had watched it with their student.
-A federal STOP grant supplied the funds to purchase a SFP Home-Use DVD ($4)for each student in the 7th grade Health classes in the School District.
Health teachers were introduced to the SFP Student-Parent Intervention during a District-wide Training and given an option to participate in it, which all agreed to do.
Teachers received three SFP PowerPoint lessons by email to present in class to the students on the subjects contained in the three SFP lessons. Included in the email was a parent explanation note to send home to parents, and the three Homework assignments which corresponded to the information taught in the SFP Home-Use DVD lessons.
HOW IT WORKED:
- In 2012, prior to beginning, a note went home to parents explaining the program and asking parents to participate with their Teen. Parents had to sign and return the note agreeing to participate. 94% of parents returned the note. Then each Health Class student viewed the PowerPoint lessons presented by their teachers in class. They also received a gallon-sized zip-lock baggie with the free SFP Home-Use DVD, homework sheets and instructions to watch each of the three Lessons with their parents, and fill out and return the homework sheets. Lesson 8 and 9 assignment sheet included a parent retrospective pre-post-survey assessing what attitude changes occurred through watching the SFP DVD, and whether they had acted to make a firm no-alcohol or drug rule with their student.
- In 2013 the 7th grade students who received the intervention in 2012 became 8th graders and took the SHARP survey (the State Student Health and Risk Prevention survey in February of 2013. The SLC School District showed a 50% decline in 8th grade binge drinking between 2011 and 2013 – from 12.5% to 6.4%.
- Further, the SHARP survey, which had extra questions about whether students had viewed the SFP DVD with their parents, showed that those who watched it had parents who checked up on them more and talked to them more about not using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.
- WHY IT WORKED: SFP-DVD instruction increased the perception of alcohol brain harm for students and parents, which caused an “environmental” change for the students in that drinking became more costly (increased negative consequences from parents) and less available (more parental monitoring).
- WHAT WE LEARNED: You can alter a parent’s behavior by showing them scientific facts about the damage alcohol and drugs can do to the developing teen brain, and giving them precise skills of how to protect their children from use. The SFP DVD is the perfect tool for that intervention, and the Health classes proved to be the perfect vehicle to deliver the intervention. Once a parent alters their behavior through Bonding, setting Boundaries, and Monitoring, teen alcohol use decreases.
LONG-TERM RAMIFICATIONS: Since research shows 90% of adult addictions in America began in adolescence, if we can prevent use through the 12th grade – students are much less likely to use and become addicted.