Drug Free Kids takes on ‘teen takers’

The organization reminds parents that kids often "borrow" things without asking, including prescription drugs.
en contexte bonne version1eng

Any parent with a teen – or those of us who are honest about our own adolescence – know that young adults like to “borrow” things, even without asking.

Drug Free Kids Canada (formerly Partnership for Drug Free Canada) is using that simple insight for a new campaign that it hopes will prompt parents to check their homes for stray prescription medications that might be “borrowed” all too easily.

The new, six-month “Teen Takers” campaign, led by Union in Montreal, includes PSAs running on TV, radio, print, digital and OOH all centred on the idea that kids take things without asking, and parents who let it slide may not realize their prescriptions could be up for grabs too.

In the TV spot, for example, a dad is shown looking for various innocuous items that have gone missing – most of which are just annoying, not dangerous – until he realizes his pill bottle is more accessible than it should be.

Showing that fairly normal situation – parents looking for missing items – was a way of finding a different angle to get parents to talk to their kids, says Marc Paris, Drug Free Kids’ executive director. “One of the biggest challenges we have with communicating with parents is fighting what we call the ‘not my kid syndrome’.”

This is the sixth campaign in five years by Drug Free Kids that focuses specifically on prescription drugs, which after alcohol and marijuana are the most abused by teens, he says.

Prescription drug abuse among teens has actually declined since its peak in 2013, when roughly 20% of teens said they’d misused them. Now, that figure is somewhere around 12%, which still represents 300,000 young adults, Paris says.

Still, parents are more likely to talk to their kids about drinking and smoking weed than prescription drugs, which is why the campaign has a call to action for them to check their medicine cabinets for common drugs that may be misused.

Drug Free Kids handles media internally. In recent years, it’s become one of the largest recipients of donated media, receiving $1.3 million per month on average of donated space and time.

Earlier this month, Drug Free Kids rebranded to focus more on its mandate of helping teens and prompting dialogues with parents and their kids.