Now, the conference focuses on various things, but since the Sentinel decided to focus on the drug element, so will I!
Here's some relevant stuff from the article:
Students need to hear drug prevention messages early and often, said Lacy Lowrey, the manager of national programming and development for Project 7th Grade.Damn pushers, stop making things look like candy!
Project 7th Grade, part of a Phoenix-based youth program, offers free presentations to parents through schools and law enforcement officers.Lowrey gave statistics on youth drug use and exposure, including photographs of illicit drugs that are designed to attract young users and, in some cases, look almost indistinguishable from candy.
Anyway, I had never heard of Project 7th Grade. But since they're getting free press in the Sentinel and are making presentations to local educators, I figured it might be a good idea to check them out and see whether they're reputable.
I should probably say from the outset that I think most drug prevention programs suck. The most well-known case of their suckage is probably the ridiculously ineffective waste of money that is the D.A.R.E. program.
Hell, you can even find articles in USA Today dating back to 1993 that talk about how DARE doesn't work. So it shouldn't be news to anyone that it's a waste of time and money. Yet people still support it, and I still got harrassed by some jerkwad in the entryway to Circuit City trying to raise money for it (he didn't like being told the research shows DARE is ineffective, apparently).
DARE is hardly alone in their suckage, though. The government's stupid anti-pot ads on tv may actually increase marijuana use, which frankly isn't surprising. Kids don't tend to listen to you when they can tell you're lying to them. Also, the ads are much funnier to watch when you're high.
So there's a lot of junk out there, and very few programs that work. But how about Project 7th Grade?
Now, I haven't been able to find any research on its efficacy, but it's a pretty new program. I did write to them asking if they could direct me to some research, but got no response. So let's just assume there isn't anything out there indicating their program actually works.
Still, if it's a sound program perhaps they'll pick up some good research down the road. Is it based on sensible ideas? Does it follow sound principles? What is it all about?
Having read over their stuff, it can be distilled down to one phrase from their website: "We recommend that you [drug] test your child frequently and randomly."
Of course, drug testing is generally a bad idea and has many destructive effects, but few positive ones. Even ignoring the erosion of trust and family bonds, there are false positives to be concerned about, not to mention oppositional effects (your parents don't trust you, so you might as well do drugs!). There's also a total lack of evidence that it's an effective deterrent to drug use. And, of course, it in absolutely no way addresses the source of the drug use. So it solves nothing.
Why would anyone put forth such a stupid program?
Well, that bit is easy. You see, Project 7th Grade is a partnership between notMYkid and First Check Diagnostics, LLC.
First Check Diagnostics just happens to be a company that makes and markets home drug testing kits. They have an ad on the front page of Project 7th Grade's website, and you get a free test kit at the completion of the program.
But, much like a 1970's movie where the pusher hooks unsuspecting suburbanites with free joints just to later get them hooked on smack, it's only the first one that's free. After that it's about forty bucks a pop. That's a pricey habit!
Sounds like a great program for putting money into the hands of drug testing companies, but not so great for actually dealing with drug use in kids.
Then again, most parents probably won't do more than a couple of these drug tests before they stop paying the high fees to do it. Which is awesome, because they'll already have managed to screw up their relationship with their kids. Then they'll stop testing and the kids can go off and inject angel dust into their eyeballs without needing to worry!
Now, the information that Project 7th Grade gives out may be truthful (though a perusal of their website suggests they're more in the fearmongering business than in actually taking a serious look at the issues). Perhaps they have other elements of the program that are good. I haven't seen the entire program, so I can't really say.
But it still appears to boil down to "drug test your kids." Which is just a terrible idea. So no, it's not a reputable program. It's a promotion for a home testing kit. Besides that, it's based on bad ideas. And chances are that if it has any effect on drug use at all, it's not a good effect.
Stay away from this one.