The third week of the job shadowing period in SCMS, Santarem, Portugal, occurred from March 13th to 17th. The schedule focused on the observation of the activities undertaken by SCMS Youth Workers in “Oficina da Prevencao” to prevent addictive behaviours and substance abuse.

In the field of addictive behaviours and substance abuse they have been consistent with a global model that privileges five domains of intervention: prevention, dissuasion, treatment, risk and harm reduction as well as reintegration.

Prevention is focused on the change of behaviours as well as individual and social habits so, from this perspective, it aims to promote individual and community health. The main goal is to provide knowledge and promote skill development of individuals and specific group, so that they can cope with risks related to drug use and other substances that may cause addiction.

These were the main reason why Oficina da Prevencao was lunched by Santa Casa da Misericordia in Santarem.

In line with the (social) diagnosis of Santarem, 3 different risk groups work with the main issues.

  • Children (6-10 years old) who study at EB1 de S.Domingos (primary school), from multi problematic families, identified with levels of school failure and absenteeism, early smoking initiations well as integrated in families with low levels of income where educational models are permissive (lack of rules and boundaries, low level of control) and difficulty in managing stressful situations or likelihood to peer pressure;

 

  • Teenagers (11-15 Years old) residents in Bairro de S.Domingos who study at EB2,3 Alexandre Herculano (school level from 5 to 9, basic – second – third stages of the Portuguese education system) with episodes of occasional use of psychoactive substance, licit and illicit (tobacco, alcohol and cannabis) usually related to the levels of school failure absenteeism and early school leaving difficulty in coping with stress and negative peer pressure as well as family backgrounds characterized by permissive educational models and low level of incomes;

 

  • Young people (16-24 years old) residents in Bairro de S. Domingos enrolled in alternative educational paths (education and training programs or vocational courses) with high levels of school failure, absenteeism and early school leaving, who may present challenging behaviours (such as vandalism and minor criminal offences and poly drug use (cannabis, ecstasy and cocaine);

 

In view of effectively responding to the issues of identified groups, the school is considered a privileged context to implement activities and achieve the expected results. As a key instrument, programs of individual and social skills development are undertaken in this context in order to inform and raise awareness regarding substance abuse and its effects and, simultaneously, develop the skill to adopt adaptive attitudes and make informed decisions when facing different critic situations.

Concerning education agents, a greater engagement of key actors with the team of Oficina da Prevencao in all activities undertaken in the school is required as well as their empowerment with useful tools that allow the adoption of adequate strategies when approaching these issues and improvement of educator-student relationship.

The main aim of Oficina da Prevencao is to help parents in developing self knowledge and self confidence as well as increasing their capacity of supporting their children to develop themselves. Additionally, it aims to increase and promote change. It is not meant to be a school for parents where someone teaches and other learn but an intervention that privileges co-learning and co-construction of the reality and expected transformations, and where families are regarded as competent to think /reflect and change their bad habits.

Regarding the intervention context, the majority of the activities are undertaken at EB1 de S.Domingos , EB1 de Vale de Estacas , EB1 dos Combatentes and Escola EB 2,3 Alexandre Herculano, because these are the schools attended by children, teenagers and young people from Bairro de S.Domingos.

 

Mishra