In drug education the old ‘Just Say No’ approach has been out of fashion for quite some time. There isn’t much evidence that it was effective as a school prevention technique, but some Dutch research suggests that adapted to a home environment it may have some practical use in helping parents protect their children.
The researchers looked at whether setting concrete rules with respect to smoking and drinking would lead to changes in behaviour.
They report that setting the rules did change the behaviour of their children. But in addition setting rules about smoking led to young people being less likely to use cannabis and early sexual intercourse, while setting rules on alcohol use also reduced early sexual intercourse.
This study showed that concrete parental rule setting is more strongly related to lower levels of risk behaviors in adolescents compared to the more general parenting practices (i.e., support and control). Additionally, the effects of such rules do not only apply to the targeted behavior but extend to related behaviors as well.