The DEFY Program is specifically designed for the 9-12 year old target population, a group described as "at risk" to become involved in substance misuse, gangs, and criminal activity. Leading up to this involvement are a number of risk factors, including poor grades and attendance at school, poor social skills and a lack of a supportive and caring home environment. DEFY is based on best practices determined by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) and is designed to strengthen factors that make youth more resilient to negative influences. The curriculum addresses those skills and factors. SECNAVINST 5355.3A implemented the DEFY Program within the Department of the Navy.
How does DEFY Work?
The Drug Education For Youth (DEFY) Program is a yearlong prevention program for kids ages 9 – 12. DEFY deters "at-risk" behaviors by giving kids the tools they need to resist drugs and develop positive social skills. The leadership and life skills training provided by DEFY include: goal-setting, team-building, conflict resolution and decision-making. The DEFY program is a professionally developed curriculum that incorporates key characteristics of successful substance abuse prevention programs as identified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Periodic reviews and updates of the curriculum ensure that it is current and effective. Studies completed by respected universities and independent evaluators demonstrate that the DEFY curriculum produces a measurable, positive outcome in:
• Resistance skills
• Social behavior
• Alcohol attitudes
• Smoking attitudes
• Drug knowledge
Program Activities. DEFY Program Activities commences with a structured 5-day residential or 8-day non-residential program environment conducted during the summer, followed by monthly mentoring events. DEFY youth participate in classroom learning that covers:
• Goal setting
• Leadership and teamwork
• Physical fitness
• Substance abuse prevention and refusal skills
• Self-esteem enhancement
In addition, program participants engage in educational field trips and participate in the DEFY Fitness Challenge. Aside from the education and training the youth receive, program activities enables youth to interact with adult mentors and staff to enhance the effectiveness of mentoring events.
Mentoring Events are designed to reinforce the concepts and training received during activities at the start of the program. During the school year, mentors and staff provide positive support during group mentoring sessions and interactive workshops. DEFY sites also participate in activities that promote civic responsibility and expose DEFY kids to vocational and recreational opportunities.