Philosophy of SADD
SADD was founded on the simple philosophy that young people, empowered to
help each other, are the most effective force in prevention. For more than
a quarter-century, SADD has been recognized as a national leader in alcohol
and drug education and prevention. What began as a small-town, grass-roots
response to the tragedy of two impaired driving crashes and the resulting
deaths of two teenage students quickly grew to become a nationwide organization
fueled by millions of young people across the country and around the world.
Through the efforts of SADD and similar organizations and with changes in
government policy and law, the number of teen alcohol-related traffic crashes
has been reduced by almost 60 percent. SADDs "Contract for Life"
has become part of the vernacular. At the same time, the world of teenagers
has become more complex, and substance abuse, violence, HIV/AIDS, and suicide
are also threats to teens well-being. With its expansion of focus to
include other destructive decisions, SADD is the premier youth-based education
and prevention organization in America and maintains the ability to play a
leading role in effective, evidence-based prevention programming.
Value of SADD
Dissemination and Access to Local Communities
With thousands of chapters nationwide and a strong network of state coordinators
and school-based advisors, SADD is uniquely positioned to help young people
with the growing threats to their health, happiness, and safety. Through
their campaigns and activities, SADD chapters influence millions of people
in schools, families, local community organizations, businesses, law enforcement
agencies, and the media. As an active, established youth program, SADD reaches
into more schools and touches more young people for longer periods of time
than does any other program.
of Prevention Principles
In this era of science-based prevention and increased accountability, SADD
is continuously strengthening and documenting the effectiveness of its activities
and programming. Its strong name recognition and expansive chapter base
put SADD at an unparalleled advantage to take a leadership role in implementing
model prevention practices in local communities across the country.
Much of the research literature available about effective prevention programming
details a framework of science-based principles that SADD embraces. One
of the foremost principles of prevention consistently cited is positive
youth development, the very essence of SADD. Through SADD chapters, young
people of all ages and backgrounds become skilled, educated agents for youth
initiatives developed by local, state, and national organizations working
to promote youth safety and health. SADD students are valued as contributing
members of their communities. Using the array of resources available in
their cities and states, SADD students seek out and connect their school
communities to information, ideas, educational materials and funding, training,
and program opportunities.
SADD contains elements of scientifically grounded prevention principles
recognized and endorsed by NIDA (National Institute for Drug Abuse), CSAP
(Center for Substance Abuse Prevention), CAPT (Center for the Application
of Prevention Technologies), and NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health).
As a youth-based prevention organization that begins with and evolves from
local-level efforts, SADD is all of the following.
Age appropriate. SADDs programming is developmentally appropriate
for the age ranges of the student population it serves. SADDs
primary target audience is middle and high school students. SADDs
activities and fund-raisers can be customized for use by all students,
including students in college and in elementary school.
appropriate. SADD offers all youth the opportunity to get involved
and lead prevention initiatives in their individual communities. With
guidance from the adult advisor and assessment tools provided by SADD
National, SADD students determine program needs for their communities
and implement strategies that mirror the cultural values of the target
youth population in their localities.
SADD is available for students throughout their school career, starting
in sixth grade and continuing through college. SADD chapters also exist
in some elementary schools across the country, and older SADD students
serve as mentors for younger children.
effective. SADD is free to all those who want to join. Fund-raising,
grants, and donations pay for all programming.
in dissemination capability. With thousands of chapters nationwide,
SADD is able to reach millions of youth across the country with prevention
messages and programming. The activities of SADD chapters affect school
populations, parents, local community organizations, businesses, law
enforcement agencies, and the media.
An important element in prevention theory is determining how risk and
resiliency factors unify the description of community need and predict
a framework for programming.
Risk factors increase vulnerability to substance abuse. Resiliency factors
combat risk factors. According to the research, prevention programs must
be designed to improve resiliency and protective factors and to move toward
reducing known risk factors.
SADDs prevention strategies reflect these beliefs and can be used
to counter the following risk factors.
SADD tailors prevention efforts to foster youth resiliency by:
history of alcoholism and/or other drug use
Parents involving youths in the parents use or misuse of alcohol,
tobacco, and/or other drugs (e.g., "Light my cigarette,"
"Get me a beer")
Unclear expectations of behavior, lack of monitoring and supervision,
inconsistent or harsh discipline, lack of bonding and caring, and
conflict between parents/caregivers
or ignoring teen use of alcohol and other drugs
use or abuse of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs
use of any substance during early teen years
Greater influence by and reliance on peers, rather than parents,
for advice and guidance
who use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
policies, rules, and regulations not defined or enforced uniformly
between schools (e.g., from elementary school to middle school or
from middle school to high school or from high school to college)
of opportunities for youth to become involved with the community
Easy availability of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs
Community attitudes, practices, policies, or laws favoring substance
use and misuse
all forms of drug use;
skills to resist drug offers;
social competency skills;
normative education designed to correct students misperceptions
about their peers drug use;
a strong parent component;
out to all diverse populations, including children with behavior problems
or learning disabilities;
interactive methods, such as peer discussion groups;
youth media campaigns; and
youth health and safety policy changes.
and Collaboration of Services
Active and successful SADD chapters often influence the development of new
SADD chapters, which helps to increase the number of youths who are exposed
to SADDs youth development initiatives and positive messages. Studies
have shown that schools with an active SADD chapter have better informed
students who are more aware of the risks of underage drinking, drug use,
and impaired driving.
Often, SADD chapters join other youth campaigns promoted by various youth
organizations and governing agencies. Many SADD chapters have helped to
establish transdisciplinary, multisystemic coalitions in their communities
that utilize the resources of their local law enforcement agencies, departments
of public health, community mental health centers, school systems, parent
communities, businesses, and other active youth agencies.
SADD chapters serve as a direct link to the heart of a school system and community.
Using students themselves as primary agents and meaningful contributors, SADD
chapters have become an efficient and effective avenue for quality programming
to be implemented in thousands of schools and communities across the country.
The SADD National office supports its chapters and develops programming grounded
in the most up-to-date concepts, information, and strategies from research
and practice. Ultimately, SADD has the potential to lead the youth culture
into a new era in which young people passionately embrace their ability and
desire to nurture and protect their minds, bodies, spirits, and futures.
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