COLUMN: The importance of Red Ribbon Week

By ALEC ETHEREDGE | Managing Editor

Red Ribbon Week is something that gets glossed over a lot of the time, but its importance can’t be ignored, especially during a year of abnormality for students.

With many facing the end of the previous schoolyear earlier and coming into this year with so much uncertainty due to COVID-19, there has been more pressure put on students than usual.

“Our students are facing a challenge unlike anything we’ve encountered before,” Compact 2020 Executive Director Clay Hammac said. “They are faced with a social dilemma of virtual connections and anxiety-driven desires to stay connected through multiple platforms of social influence.”

The goal of Red Ribbon Week is to raise awareness for drug use in students and the problems that can come along with it.

Personally, I have sat down with Shelby County Juvenile Court Judge Jim Kramer as well as school resource officers around the county for in-depth interviews, which quickly opened my eyes.

As a kid, you get the glitz and glam of dress up days, but the older you get, the more you recognize the true issue.

To hear about students who are abusing drugs, selling drugs, binge drinking and doing other harmful things at such an important developmental stage, it’s hard to process.

Some don’t have the proper parental guidance at home, while others just make the wrong decision to fit in or help them get through their anxiety or depression.

“We have seen first-hand the consequences this pressure has had on our talented students,” Hammac said. “We often see students struggling with the onset of clinical anxiety and depression as a result of these virtual interactions on various social media platforms. This tragically results, sometimes, in self medicating as a result of coping with these challenges. “Red Ribbon Week is an opportunity for our community to speak against drug use and addiction, in solidarity.”

And that’s where Red Ribbon Week comes in.

It’s a week that inspires students to be happy with different activities and dress up days, it inspires them to know the right thing to do is be brave and stay away from drugs and helps them understand the dangers that come with bad decisions.

This year, students from elementary schools through high schools across Shelby County took advantage of Red Ribbon Week to help spread awareness, which is credit to the administrators and staff at each for participating and the students for stepping up for a good cause.