Teen Violence and Tobacco Use Focus of Unique Workshops at Colorado State University

Note to Editors: Reporters are welcome to attend the tobacco and teen violence media training sessions. Photo opportunities include students producing television and radio spots on July 19-20 for preventing tobacco use; self-defense courses July 23-24; and television and radio production for violence prevention July 25-26. Interviews with participants and project directors can be arranged by contacting Jennifer Dimas at (970) 491-1543.

Fifty-four high school juniors from around the country will come to Colorado State University July 15-29 to participate in a unique research project. The teens will learn to create and produce their own anti-tobacco and anti-violence campaigns targeting their peers. They also will learn to work with their local media outlets to distribute the campaigns.

The workshops are specifically designed for high school students from smaller communities, which often don’t have resources for prevention campaigns.

Kathleen Kelly, associate professor of marketing in the College of Business and Randall Swaim, associate scientific director of the Tri-Ethnic Center for Prevention Research at Colorado State, run the teen tobacco and violence prevention projects with a shared grant of $2 million from the National Institutes on Drug Abuse. The violence study is a pilot project that Swaim hopes will serve as a national model for future research on preventing teen violence.

During the separate weeklong workshops – one focusing on violence and the other on tobacco use – students will learn how to write news articles, produce their own public service announcements for television, and produce and provide voice-overs for radio spots. They’ll craft their own messages specifically aimed at teens in their local communities. In the case of the tobacco prevention message, students also will produce a Spanish language version aimed at curbing the rising usage among Hispanic females.

"Research tells us that youth often decide what to do based on what’s considered acceptable by their peers," said Kelly. "The students who participate in the training sessions can become role models for other young people in their communities. They can send the message that tobacco use and violent behavior harms not only themselves, but their community as a whole."

The last part of the training will teach the teens how to work with their local print and broadcast media to place the news articles and public service announcements they’ve produced. They’ll also learn how to arrange interviews with the media.

The teen workshops are the second part of the research that began this year by selecting six communities with populations of less than 30,000 that were 20 miles or further from a major metropolitan area. Local community leaders were then chosen to receive training on how to organize and run an effective prevention campaign through their local media.

The students participating in the media workshops were selected through an application and/or an interview process by local school and community leaders. When the teens return from the media training workshops, community leaders will lend their assistance and support in launching the campaigns.

The purpose of the research is to determine the effectiveness of localized media campaigns and peer-leadership training in preventing teen tobacco use and teenage violence.

"We often hear how the media focuses too much on violence in this country," said Swaim. "Teaching students that they can work with the media to positively influence their peers and reduce teen violence will be a valuable experience."

The students attending the tobacco prevention training from July 15-22 are from Anthony, N.M., Douglas, Ariz. and Gonzales, Texas. The violence prevention training from July 22-29 will draw students from Winters, Calif., New Iberia, La. and Monticello, Ill.

"Our goal is for the students to return to their hometowns with a sense of accomplishment, purpose and pride," said Kelly. "With the experiences they’ll gain at Colorado State, they can become more effective leaders in their communities."

Tobacco Institute (July 15-22)

Producing radio/TV spots

July 19, 8:30-11:45 am, 1:15-4:30 pm

July 20, 8:30-11:45 am

Lory Student Center, Student Media

Violence Institute (July 22-29)

Producing radio/TV spots

July 25, 1:15-4:30 pm

July 26 & 27, 8:30-11:45 am

Lory Student Center, Student Media


July 23, 7-9 pm (boys)

July 24, 3:15-5:15 pm (girls)

S. College Gym