Why Don't Scare Tactics Work? Reason #2

This week, we will be focusing on why scare tactics in drug prevention messaging DON'T WORK, according to the Drug Free Action Alliance (DFAA).

Reason #2: Young people filter information differently than adults.

Young people don't have the life experience to understand the permanence of decisions or consequences of risky behavior. Even if they are warned of possible dangers, there are key developmental issues that influence how they filter such messages.

Adults filter most information using logic and rational thinking. If they know one choice could have dire consequences, they make a different choice. Young people filter the same information differently because the prefrontal cortex (the area of the brain responsible for controlling impulses, exercising judgement, and decision-making) does not finish developing until the mid-twenties.

We also know that young people experience hormonal flooding during puberty, which can create a "tinderbox of emotions." They become accustomed to more intense feelings and often seek out situations that create intense feelings as a result. This is known as sensation-seeking. Teens are naturally driven to engage in risky, impulsive behavior, and without a fully developed prefrontal cortex, they don't have the ability to "put the brakes on" when needed.

For more information or to place an order for the scare tactics manuals, please visit https://www.drugfreeactionalliance.org/scare-tactics.