Research has shown that everyone has a role to play in preventing FASD and that positive messaging is most effective for promoting awareness and discussion of alcohol use during pregnancy. Understanding positive messaging can help avoid the unintended negative consequences we have seen from previous efforts. Prevention-positive principles include:
- Using non-exploitative imagery. Prevention campaigns are replacing lone naked-belly images with those that emphasize the mother-child dyad within a supportive network.
- Respectful messaging that encourages women to access help if they need it rather than fear-based or blaming messaging like “if you loved your baby, you wouldn’t drink.”
- Linking to where information and help is available.
- Not describing FASD as “100% preventable” as this may lead women to think that the system of care won’t welcome them if they have already consumed alcohol in pregnancy.
Here are some recent examples of prevention-positive efforts from across Canada.
The Yukon FASD Interagency Advisory Committee is taking a prevention-positive approach with their “Alcohol-free is supportive” campaign. It consists of posters in English and French, ads in the local theatres, online ads, and a radio ad as featured on CKRW. Below is an example of one poster with plans for others in the coming months. Partners in this project are the Yukon Government, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Society of the Yukon (FASSY), and Child Development Centre.
Women can sign up to do a “Dry 9” and receive a t-shirt and emails of support during their pregnancy. The Dry 9 movement encourages others to support women who decide not to drink any alcohol during their pregnancy. Short videos on topics such as the “Persistent Friend”, “Co-Parent to Be”, and the “Previous Generation” can be shared with others. The Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission launched the Dry 9 movement last December as part of DrinkSense.
The Saskatchewan Prevention Institute focused on positive partner support in their “This is why I supported her not to drink” campaign. The information card is available as a poster and there are also versions in Dene and Cree. Learn more about partner influence and support on their “How To Help” page http://skprevention.ca/how-to-help/
Health professionals in Quebec City will use printable pamphlets to have discussions with women and their partners about alcohol and pregnancy. Besides information on alcohol and FASD, the pamphlets, published with the help of Public Heath Agency of Canada, describe fetal development, and resources and support. Link to brochures and posters can be found on the Dispensaire Diétetique de Montréal site.
Having discussions about alcohol and birth control with all women of childbearing age and their partners has proven to be an effective FASD prevention strategy. This FASD ONE prevention poster aims to encourage health and social service providers to have discussions and to support a universal screening approach.
For previous posts about other prevention campaigns, see:
ARE SHOCK TACTICS EFFECTIVE? MARCH 22, 2011
SHOULD AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS BE FEAR-BASED OR SUPPORT-BASED? APRIL 20, 2011
STRONG SPIRIT STRONG FUTURE CAMPAIGN IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA DECEMBER 19, 2013
ALCOHOL AND PREGNANCY CAMPAIGN FROM NUNAVUT, CANADA SEPTEMBER 23, 2014
ONTARIO ALCOHOL AND PREGNANCY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN DRAWS MIXED REACTIONS SEPTEMBER 16, 2014
FASD AWARENESS CAMPAIGNS: CREATING EFFECTIVE MESSAGES JULY 14, 2014
RETHINK YOUR DRINKING CAMPAIGN FROM SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO JANUARY 13, 2014