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News and views from the Drug Education Forum

“We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to ban the usage of Narconon in any publicly funded orgianisation.”

I know I said I’d be away, but…

I see (via nullifidian) that a petition which asked the government to ban Narconon from being used as a contributor to drug education in maintained schools (and other publicly funded institutions) has recieved a response from the government.

“In schools, teachers should be the main providers of drug education and maintain responsibility for the overall drug education programme. External contributors can be used where they add to the drug education programme a dimension that teachers alone cannot deliver.  It is for schools and local authorities, however, to decide whether to use the services of an external contributor to assist with their drug education programme, and if so who this should be.”

Strangely the government’s response fails to mention that they have recently committed to developing standards for external contributors who are delivering drug education as part of their response to the drug and alcohol education review.  I’d have thought that signatories to that petition may well have found that a useful piece of information!

Anyone considering commissioning Narconon as an external contributor to their drug education should read the evaluation of their approach by the California Department of Education:

Some NDAP teaching methods may undermine the desired objectives of schools’ research-based drug prevention curricula: using ex-addicts to teach drug prevention in schools may tacitly reinforce students’ perceptions that drug use really isn’t risky and may also contradict efforts to teach students to critically evaluate health information and its sources. Because NDAP presenters are encouraged to be flexible and the presentation materials leave a variety of content and suggested activities with insufficient instructional direction, the standardization and fidelity of implementation may not be high.

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Filed under: Narconon

Education is what they need to kick the drugs

But what sort of education? 

In an otherwise quite useful contribution to the debate about the place of drug education in the strategy for helping to prevent drug harms this article uses Narconon as an example of drug education practice:

Narconon Drug Education is a national charity that raises awareness of the pitfalls of substance abuse and encourages young people to reach their full potential. It employs lecturers who deliver presentations in primary and secondary schools across the UK to provide practical advice on substance abuse and lead discussions on the importance of achieving life-long goals. In the opening term of the last school year, Narconon’s nine lecturers reached 5,191 schoolchildren with their presentations. The number of lecturers is scheduled to rise to 20 before the end of the school year. Feedback from the schools is positive too. Three-quarters of teachers who have participated in the programme say they would definitely recommend it to other schools and students testify that the presentations are directly relevant and applicable to their daily lives.

The thing you’ll see that’s missing from the piece is any mention of the fact they are linked to the Church of Scientology, or that the most significant external evaluation of the Narconon Drug Abuse Prevention Programme [NDAP] found:

NDAP was evaluated for accuracy, developmental appropriateness, and teaching methods. Some drug-related information presented in the NDAP and supplementary resources provided to schools—although aligned with the Narconon drug rehabilitation methodology—does not reflect accurate, widely accepted medical and scientific evidence. Some information is misleading because it is overstated or does not distinguish between drug use and abuse. The NDAP elementary, middle, and high school presentation outlines are inadequately differentiated to the developmental characteristics and cognitive levels of student learners. Although the NDAP is ostensibly aligned with research-based practice, the actual presentation outlines, delivery scripts, and additional resources made available to schools are often inconsistent with these standards. NDAP presentations are lecture-oriented sessions that emphasize conveying information to students and provide limited opportunities for students to exchange ideas, interact with concepts, construct personally meaningful understanding, and practice skills. Some NDAP teaching methods may undermine the desired objectives of schools’ research-based drug prevention curricula: using ex-addicts to teach drug prevention in schools may tacitly reinforce students’ perceptions that drug use really isn’t risky and may also contradict efforts to teach students to critically evaluate health information and its sources. Because NDAP presenters are encouraged to be flexible and the presentation materials leave a variety of content and suggested activities with insufficient instructional direction, the standardization and fidelity of implementation may not be high.

I’ve raised the issue directly with the author of the article and will post any reply I recieve.

Filed under: Narconon,

About this blog

This blog tries to pick up relevant media and research stories about drug education. It mainly focuses on information in England as this is the geographical remit for the Drug Education Forum. We welcome comments that are on topic.

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