Monday, October 11, 2010

Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (abbreviated CAMY) is a must-know resource for any health educator. Part of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, CAMY "monitors the marketing practices of the alcohol industry to focus attention and action on industry practices that jeopardize the health and safety of America's youth." The CAMY website is an incredible resource for any teacher, whether their goal is to find information for lesson planning, reading advocacy reports, staying on top of political updates and news reports, or the reading latest research on alcohol advertising.

CAMY contains an expansive section of print alcohol advertisements grouped by brand name or product, and a separate section of television commercials that are similarly grouped. CAMY provides these advertisements with the hope that they will "stimulate discussion, comment, criticism, and public concern about alcohol marketing and youth." I've used alcohol advertisements provided by CAMY in my seventh grade health classes when we deconstruct tobacco and alcohol advertisements. In the past, I have selected a handful of advertisements and used them in a carousel activity. Advertisements are hung around the room, and groups of students go to each one and try to deconstruct the advertisements before we discuss them. This is typically after we have examined advertising techniques, and we expand upon this by critiquing advertisements and analyzing how they effect health behavior. This is an important skill for students to learn because it is one of the National Health Education Standards, and the performance indicators under those standards, which are part of any exemplary health education program.

We haven't entered that part of our curriculum yet this year, but when we do I'll write a detailed post about the actual lesson itself.

Some of the information on the CAMY website might be a little too in-depth for middle school students, but the reports and research provided by CAMY are great opportunities to extend a lesson for students able to continue further than their classmates, or to use in high school as an expansion to what was learned in middle school. Some of the summary brochures and fact sheets are dated, so care should be taken when certain statistics are used in the classroom. The organization has received some criticism from a group that has also criticized Mothers Against Drunk Driving, The Robert Woods Johnson Foundation, and The American Medical Association. I'll let the reader make up their own mind about those criticisms. With any topic, it's important to examine information critically, from multiple viewpoints, especially as a teacher. I feel that I don't need a website trying to discredit organizations (especially ones listed above) to make my own judgements based on the information I have available.

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