The Second Annual Conference on Gross National Happiness The Second International Conference on Gross National Happiness
Local Pathways to Global Wellbeing
St. Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, Nova Scotia, Canada
June 20 to June 24, 2005
  Christiane Poulin, Janice Graham, Jocelyn Nicholson
Harm minimization and the rights of the Canadian adolescent

Harm reduction is increasingly being contemplated as an alternative to primary prevention as concerns substance use by adolescent populations. Canada's official stance is that "because substance abuse is primarily a health issue rather than an enforcement issue, harm reduction is considered to be a realistic, pragmatic and humane approach as opposed to attempting solely to reduce the use of drugs. " (Canada's Drug Strategy, 1998). However, harm reduction is controversial and there is little solid evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of harm reduction strategies targeting adolescents in school.

The 1989 United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Canada in 1990, stresses that the child's rights must be in accordance with age, maturity and evolving capacity, and also recognizes limitations to the child's rights as prescribed by law. Using the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and Canada's Drug Strategy as a policy framework, this presentation will discuss whether harm reduction is a reasonable stance for drug education in public schools. This talk will also profile a four-year co-operative participatory harm reduction research project (SCIDUA) conducted in Nova Scotia, Canada. The primary goal of SCIDUA was to obtain empirical evidence about the effectiveness of school-based harm reduction drug education. We found that harm reduction may be an acceptable and effective approach for older but not for younger adolescent students. Our presentation will give the audience insights into our practical personal experience in creating and running this innovative initiative.

Christiane Poulin
Professor and Canada Research Chair in Population Health and Addictions
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology
Dalhousie University
5790 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia
Canada B3H 1V7

phone: 902-494-1921

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