Every October since I was in kindergarten, there is always a week designated as Red Ribbon Week, and each day is given a dress up theme and the administration of my school promotes it like crazy. In elementary school, it was a fun chance to dress up, because we didn’t have spirit days yet; in middle school, it started to lose its excitement. By high school, it was a joke- even if the school administration supported it, no one wore wacky socks or hats, and if anything, they made fun of it. So what went wrong?
At this point, it’s become inevitable that at least some teenagers (though not all) will try drugs before they graduate high school. At my school, drinking and vaping isn’t very taboo, but no one likes to admit how popular it is.
The harsh reality is that it is popular, especially in certain social groups. So the more Red Ribbon Week is pushed on us, the more forced and ironic it seems. Naturally, as teenagers, we satirize it instead of genuinely supporting it.
Recently it was Red Ribbon Week again, and as a senior, I had no intentions to dress up. It’s a busy week, our last football game was that Friday, and the spirit theme that day conflicts with the Red Ribbon Week theme anyway. It was a Monday; we were too busy, too tired, too forgetful, and frankly, didn’t care enough to participate- and that’s okay. It doesn’t seem to make a difference whether I wear my bee-patterned socks or just a normal pair of no-shows with my sneakers. So why bother?
Red Ribbon Week just doesn’t involve teenagers in this kind of discussion in the right way. It’s become too much of a joke for the issue to be taken seriously. If schools actually want to solve or prevent future drug problems, they need to intentionally talk to and offer help directly to students, rather than using a light-hearted and openly mocked campaign to try (and fail) to make a difference.
Written by: Jennifer Stroud / @jennifer_stroud
Edited by: Isabel Hope / @isabama / @isabamahope