Project STAR/Midwestern Prevention Project
The Midwestern Prevention Project (MPP) was a comprehensive, community-based, multifaceted program intended to prevent or reduce gateway substance use (alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana) during adolescence. The program strived to help youths recognize the tremendous social pressures to use drugs and to provide them with assertiveness skills to help refuse peer pressure and avoid drug use. MPP was designed to eliminate gateway substance use in middle school students, to reduce the risk of delinquency along the lifespan.
The program was targeted at youths in the transitory period from early adolescence to middle adolescence, as this age presents a high risk for gateway drug use. The program was intended for use in a school-based setting for middle school students, specifically, sixth and seventh graders.
MPP disseminated an antidrug message to students through a system of well-coordinated, communitywide strategies that involved various areas that influence a middle school student’s life, including school, community, family, and mass media.
School. The central component for drug prevention programming is the school. The school component used active social learning techniques (modeling, role playing, and discussion, with student peer leaders assisting teachers). It was included in teachers’ curricula for middle school students and included homework that requires participation from parents in assignments.
Community/policy. A consistent message supporting a non–drug use norm was delivered through community organization and training, as well as through changes in local health policy regarding tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs. This component entailed training community leaders and government officials to plan prevention goals and strategies for implementation.
Parent. The parent education and organization component involved a parent–principal committee that met to review school drug policy and parent–child communications training, and was designed to occur within the school and the school neighborhood. This component was intended to motivate parents to participate in the furtherance of program goals.
Mass media. The mass media component was intended to promote the program’s antidrug message through various media, such as television, radio, and newspaper. Mass media programming was used to support the other components by introducing the program’s concepts to the entire community.
These components were introduced to the community in sequence at a rate of one a year, with the mass media component occurring throughout all the years. All components involved regular meetings of respective deliverers (for example, community leaders for organization) to review and refine programs. Overall, the interrelated components were intended to promote a comprehensive curriculum that disseminated a zero-tolerance attitude toward substance use. While the MPP was mainly school based, the program was designed to elicit participation from the community, schools, and family to promote a comprehensive approach to drug prevention. Therefore, proper implementation of the MPP curriculum required collaboration and effective communication between members from teachers, parents, principals, and student leaders. The MPP used a preventive approach to drug abuse, concentrating on the pressure that adolescents face regarding substance use. The program addressed the fact that adolescents ages 10 to 14 are highly susceptible to experimentation and peer pressure to use drugs and cigarettes, and that cigarette use during formative years can serve as a gateway to further drug use and delinquency. Also taking into account that school transition provides a critical risk period for smoking and risk behavior in youths, the program adopted a comprehensive school-based curriculum to prevent and reduce substance use in middle school students.