JENA, Germany, April 19 (UPI) -- Telling teens to "just say no" is not effective but school-based training on live skills helps them avoid tobacco and alcohol, German researchers say.
"Information alone is not good enough because even children know that alcohol consumption and smoking can cause health damage," Dr. Karina Weichold of the Jena University in Germany says in a statement. "Therefore prevention needs to start somewhere else."
Weichold and colleagues at Jena University are developing a specially developed prevention program named IPSY -- an acronym for Information and Psychosocial Competence, which tries to convey basic life skills.
The study involved about 1,700 school children ages 10-15 from Thuringia, Germany. The students learn general skills such as how to deal with stress and anxiety or with their own self image, using interactive learning modules. They discuss their results with classmates and teachers.
Role playing, movement and relaxation techniques are part of the concept. The program consists of 15 modules of 90 minutes in fifth-grade, followed by a development phase of seven modules in the next two years.
"The age-typical increase in the consumption of alcohol and cigarettes is lower in the group of pupils who took part in our program than in the control groups," the researchers say. "Moreover, the initiation age is being delayed."
The findings are published in the Journal of Early Adolescence.