Aren’t Students in Grades 7 and 8 Too Young?

An Open Letter to Parents About MADD Canada’s School Assembly ProgramAlthough grade 7 and 8 students are not yet driving or may not yet be experimenting with alcohol or drugs, we know that educating students at a young age helps them develop the necessary skills required to make important decisions when the time comes. Some students may already be exposed to being a passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who is impaired or have been in situations where they were around drugs and alcohol.

We want these students to know their options before they are faced with actually making the choice to drive impaired or get in the car with someone who is impaired. We want them to know that being a passenger with an impaired driver is equally as dangerous as driving impaired. This is a critical point in students’ lives where they are becoming more independent and are at a stage where they can be easily influenced, impressionable and vulnerable. Our program guides them and gives them the tools that will prepare them for making smart and responsible choices before they enter high school.

Need more information? Try the FAQ.

The Facts

(Cross Canada Report on Student Alcohol and Drug Use, Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, 2011)

  • Road crashes are the number 1 cause of youth death in Canada.
  • In Alberta, Manitoba and Ontario, 25.7–37.5% students report having been a passenger in a car with someone who had ‘been drinking’, whereas in the Atlantic provinces, 16.9–19.8% of students report they have been a passenger in a car with someone who had had ‘too much to drink’.
  • A significant increase in prevalence of alcohol and cannabis use from grade 7 to grade 12. For example, in grade 7, depending on the province, 3% to 8% report past-year cannabis use versus 30% to 53% among their grade 12 counterparts. The largest increase in from grade 8 to grade 9.
  • There are few gender differences in alcohol or cannabis use. However, more males report drinking and consuming cannabis before driving.

Summaries of reports and surveys on youth drug and alcohol use across Canada (PDF)