‘Red Ribbon Week’ is a national drug prevention campaign promoted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The observance began with a grass roots movement when parents, students and teachers began wearing red ribbons to remember DEA agent Kiki Camarena, who was tortured and murdered by drug dealers in 1985.
The National Family Partnership organized the first Nationwide Red Ribbon Campaign, which has touched millions of lives around the world since its beginning in 1985. Parents and students began wearing red ribbons to raise awareness of the destructive influence of drugs after the murder of DEA agent Camarena.
According to the Partnership, when Enrique (Kiki) Camarena decided to join the DEA his mother tried to talk him out of it because of the danger. “I’m only one person”, he told her, “but I want to make a difference.”
As he was leaving his office to meet his wife for lunch on Feb. 7, 1985, he was abducted off the street by five men who forced him into a vehicle. His body wasn’t found until a month later. He had been tortured until he died.
Camarena’s friends and neighbors began wearing red satin ribbons in his memory and the idea was picked up by others who were upset about the destruction caused by alcohol and other drugs in America.
According to the Partnership’s website, “Today, the Red Ribbon serves as a catalyst to mobilize communities to educate youth and encourage participation in drug prevention activities. Since that time, the campaign has reached millions of U.S. children and families. The National Family Partnership (NFP) and its network of individuals and organizations continue to deliver his message of hope to millions of people every year, through the National Red Ribbon Campaign.”
The National Family Partnership, a national network of parenting organizations, not only raises awareness through the annual Red Ribbon Campaign, but also is an active advocate for families to policy makers on a local, state and national level. The organization also acts as a national clearinghouse of prevention literature for parents and communities.
Each year, the Partnership sponsors a photo contest during which students and families can decorate their homes or classrooms with red ribbons using the year’s campaign theme, take a photo of the decorations and submit it for voting. Visitors to the website vote on the photos throughout November and the winners are announced in December.
Winners are awarded $1,000 for their school and an iPad for their family.
The 2014 Red Ribbon Campaign them is “Love Yourself – Be Drug Free.”
Also, at the Red Ribbon website, parents and community leaders are asked to take the Red Ribbon Pledge to become a part of a drug-free America. Following are the elements of the Red Ribbon Pledge:
As parents and citizens, we will talk to our children and the children in our lives about the dangers of drug abuse.
We will set clear rules for our children about not using drugs.
We will set a good example for our children by not using illegal drugs or medicine without a prescription.
We will monitor our children’s behavior and enforce appropriate consequences, so that our rules are respected.
We will encourage family and friends to follow the same guidelines to keep children safe from substance abuse.
Those who sign the pledge are asked for their personal contact information.
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