In recent years, the U.S.-Mexico drug war has been discussed as part of policy debates on subjects ranging from prison and sentencing reform to immigration law and border control. In Mexico, the war has become increasingly violent, resulting in more than 27,000 “disappeared” in less than a decade.
There are complex and contentious debates to be had about causes and solutions, but one fact is incontrovertible: the Mexican drug trade is driven by demand from the U.S. It is likely that some students in your school are contributing to that demand.
Typical drug abuse prevention efforts focus on personal harm, i.e., the negative consequences for the user. This lesson has students experiment with a different tactic: creating compassion for the “disappeared” and their families. Using clips from Kingdom of Shadows, a documentary about the drug trade and Mexican families searching for their “disappeared” loved ones, students will conduct research to determine whether prompting subjects to think about the real-life impact of the drug trade on innocent victims increases the likelihood that they will resist using illegal drugs.
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