Red Ribbon Week is an essential awareness campaign held every year from October 23 to 31 throughout the United States to prevent violence and drug use by children and teens.
As the nation’s largest and oldest drug prevention initiative, it is beneficial way to create awareness and encourage kids to learn about the importance of a drug-free America. We support the message created by Red Ribbon Week every year.
How Drug Use Affects Children
Children are a somewhat unseen portion of society that is suffering at the hands of drug addiction and the current opioid crisis. There has been a staggering increase in the number of children being placed in the foster care system due to the opioid crisis.
According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the city of Baltimore alone saw foster care placements jump 30 percent from 2014 to 2017. This unfortunate dilemma can lead to children developing their own substance use disorder later in life.
Children are affected by drug and alcohol abuse in many ways, including neglect, trauma, and being put in social situations that promote substance use addiction.
Sadly, the shame and stigma of addiction often stops children and families from asking for much needed help.
Red Ribbon Week helps young people open up and learn about more about drug use prevention and addiction.
Red Ribbon Week Theme
Every year, thousands of Red Ribbon ideas are submitted by students, parents, educators, and community members throughout the U.S. to encourage everyone to get involved.
One idea each year is awarded prize money and is chosen as the annual Red Ribbon Week Theme.
The Red Ribbon Week Theme for 2023 is “Be Kind to Your Mind. Live Drug Free.™”
The winning theme was created by Danielle Helm, a Youth Service Coordinator from Russell County Middle School in Russell Springs, Kentucky.
She chose this theme because drug use alters brain development and decreases neurotransmitters responsible for experiencing happiness.
Learning how to increase oxytocin and other neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins naturally without drugs can have a profound impact on the mental health and wellbeing of everyone.
Danielle‘s message is used as the Red Ribbon Week Theme for the 2023 event, as well as for branded merchandise.
Every year has a new message, and the Red Ribbon Week theme for 2020 was “Be Happy. Be Brave. Be Drug Free.™” That year it was created by Tricia Nelson of Locust Corner Elementary School in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Red Ribbon Week Events
People are encouraged to hold their own awareness events. The organizers of the campaign initiative provide curriculum ideas for events and coordinate a National Red Ribbon Photo Contest.
The entire week focuses on educational establishments sharing the message about embracing a drug-free lifestyle.
The following statistic emphasizes the importance of raising awareness:
“Children of parents who talk to their teens regularly about drugs are 42% less likely to use drugs than those who don’t, yet only a quarter of teens report having these conversations.”
Branded merchandise is available from the Nimco online store. Anyone can host an event and purchase the merchandise to raise awareness.
Red Ribbon Week and its supporters do a wonderful job of providing drug abuse prevention tools, teaching aids, and educational software that is carefully designed to suit specific age groups.
Red Ribbon Week Curriculum Ideas
Red Ribbon Week provides a range of educational modules in subject areas such as:
- How drugs affect the brain and body
- Laws about drugs
- Making healthy decisions
Red Ribbon Week teaches the importance of learning healthy techniques, like how to quit vaping, and coping mechanisms when faced with stressful situations.
One of the important messages of Red Ribbon Week is understanding that everyone has problems and it’s okay to ask for help.
Children learn about who they can trust to receive medicine from and the importance of helping others. This is an important topic as a staggering 60% of teens who abuse prescription drugs get them from friends and relatives.
The wide range of lessons are available directly from the Red Ribbon website and are perfect for teachers and parents to educate children about the problems surrounding drug abuse in the USA.
The materials and lessons are categorized by grade as follows:
- Elementary School – Grades K to 5
- Middle School – Grades 6 to 8
- High School – Grades 9 to 12
The drug prevention lessons are a mixture of physical activities, videos, interactive quizzes, and articles that span all subjects from Mathematics and History to Health and Science.
Anyone can download a comprehensive campaign planning guide that contains ideas for celebrating Red Ribbon Week in the community.
The Red Ribbon Week Pledge
There’s both a parental and youth pledge that anyone can take on the Red Ribbon Week website to show support for creating a drug free America. The pledge can be signed digitally here.
For children, the Youth Pledge is to grow up safe, healthy, and drug free with respect and understanding, while spreading the word about the dangers of drugs and addiction.
For parents, the Parental Pledge is about setting clear rules, being a good example, monitoring children’s behavior and encouraging others to keep children safe from substance abuse.
Parents and teachers can increase their awareness about substances like vaping, the whippets drug, and others that are popular with teens.
Social Media Hashtag #RedRibbonWeek
This drug prevention awareness event has good coverage throughout social media. There’s also a hashtag that can be used so that others can find #RedRibbonWeek trending posts.
Social media posts can be used to spread the message of drug awareness and prevention. A typical sample tweet is:
It’s important for everyone to do their part by sharing their story and encouraging others to spread the message about drug use and prevention.
Red Ribbon Week organizers and participants do a fantastic job of raising awareness about the importance of a drug-free America.