A couple of years ago, the school I was teaching at had a door decorating contest regarding drug awareness. At first I was not going to participate because I thought my kindergarteners were too young to know about drug and alcohol abuse. I was really glad that I decided to ask them what they knew. Unfortunately, several of my students talked about parents or siblings who were in jail because of drugs. I decided that these kids needed to hear about the problems of drugs, alcohol, and teen pregnancy from someone they loved and respected (and fortunately kindergarten teachers are very loved). Although my kids were only 5 years old, they lived in a community where crime and teen pregnancy were part of their daily lives. I choose to talk about how using drugs or alcohol (or getting pregnant) would limit what they could do when they grew up. I know that what I said might not make a difference but, in school districts where the kids are up against so much, I think that the teacher's role in teaching morals, manners and talking about consequences of dangerous decisions is especially important.
Our drug awareness door won the contest. The kids loved that I took their pictures with my Mac computer and used the feature that distorts their faces. The pictures were really silly. The title of our board was "Mrs. Goff's class knows that Drugs are bad because they mess with your head." The speech bubble near my head says "and that 'messed up heads' are only funny in photographs." Each child told me one reason using drugs was bad.