Schools celebrate Red Ribbon Week

Since 1988, schools and other groups across the country have pledged to reinforce the message of being drug-free and use the last week of October to educate children on the dangers of drugs and other substances.

The week was established to honor the work of DEA Special Agent Enrique “Kiki” Camarena, who was killed Feb. 7, 1985, near Guadalajara, Mexico, while working to uncover a drug ring. Red Ribbon Week has reached an estimated 80 million children and teens.

Alicia Ozenberger, deputy director of ACT Missouri, said this week serves as a perfect time for parents to again talk to their children about avoiding alcohol, drugs and tobacco products.

“This week was started to honor him (Camarena) and help prevent youth from going down the destructive path of drugs, alcohol and tobacco,” she said.

During the past week, schools held events to help grab children’s attention, incorporating spirit week, assemblies, contests, drawings and more.

Ozenberger said that by keeping the message current, the overall anti-drug message of the week appealed to middle schoolers and high school students alike.

“You have to focus on what is affecting them now,” she said, noting this year’s event focused heavily on prescription drug abuse.

“We know that teens use what is most easily available to them, and prescription drugs are pretty readily available,” she said. “Historically, marijuana, alcohol and tobacco are always the most commonly used and that is because they are easier to get.”

Ozenberger also noted that during her years of work in the recovery arena, she has heard from countless recovering addicts that if they had earlier intervention, or even had an adult tell them the dangers of using, they would not have begun.

“Capitalize on Red Ribbon Week, use the school activities as a time to bring this up with your children again,” Ozenberger said. “Know what is going on in your child’s life, know their friends and keep the lines of communication open.”

For resources and tips on how to talk to your children about drugs, alcohol and tobacco, contact ACT Missouri at 635-6669 or toll-free at 877-669-2280.

Ozenberger also recommended contacting Partnership for Drug Free America, of which ACT Missouri is the Missouri affiliate. The partnership can be reached at www. or 212-922-1560.


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