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Safe and Drug-Free Schools: Promising Prevention Practices

Cultural Competency

Cultural competence is the process of communicating with people from diverse geographic, ethnic, racial, cultural, economic, and social backgrounds. Becoming culturally competent requires knowledge and skill development at policymaking, administration, and practice. School, agencies, and other prevention professionals must be culturally competent in working with diverse populations or their efforts will be ineffective.

The following steps may be taken to become more culturally competent:

  1. Become more aware of the various cultures that exist within your community;

  2. Assess personal cultural values while acknowledging each of our own perceptions of the world; and

  3. Work to understand the dynamics that may occur when members of different cultures interact.

Prevention strategies should also be culturally appropriate. Here are some steps you can take to ensure cultural appropriateness:

  1. Prevention strategies are culturally competent when they demonstrate sensitivity to cultural differences and similarities, while demonstrating effectiveness in using cultural symbols to communicate a message.

  2. Seek input from your target population before developing and implementing prevention strategies.

  3. Develop written guidelines that help guide the cultural competence of program staff.

  4. Continuously review all strategies, policies, procedures, and practices to ensure they are culturally competent.


Culture: The shared values, traditions, norms, customs, arts, history, folklore, and institutions of a group of people that are unified by race, ethnicity, language, nationality, or religion.

Competence: Acquisition of knowledge, skills, and experience necessary for the development and implementation of services to different groups served.

Cultural Sensitivity: An awareness of the nuances of one's own and other cultures.

Cultural Diversity: Differences in race, ethnicity, language, nationality, or religion among various groups within a community. A community is said to be culturally diverse its residents include members of different groups.

Additional resources:

Culturally appropriate programming:

What do we know about evidence based programs for culturally and ethnically diverse youth and their families?

American Indian/Native American Prevention and Intervention Resources

The following are resources specifically related to working with the American Indian/Native American population on alcohol and drug prevention:

One Sky Center – The One Sky Center is the First National Resource Center for American Indian and Alaska Natives. This website focuses on alcohol/drug prevention programs that are science and researched based programs that are culturally specific to the American Indian population. This website provides links to curriculum and best practices working with American Indian adolescents.

White Bison is an American Indian owned non-profit corporation. White Bison offers resources to Native American alcohol/drug prevention. There are two specific programs that are science and research based programs accepted throughout the County. "Sons of Tradition" and "Daughters of Tradition" are training programs. This website provides additional links to resources that are culturally specific.

The Association of American Indian Physicians is a website that provides links to Indian Health. Subjects include alcoholism, substance abuse and domestic violence among American Indian. Additional links include and these links provide proven programs and curriculum for the American Indian population.

The National Congress of American Indian is a website that provides prevention information for Native Youth. This website provides links to the National Congress of American Indian Youth Ambassador Leadership Program and the National Congress of American Indian Youth Commission. This website provides a list of trainings/workshops and conferences. In addition, this website focuses on Methamphetamines in Indian Country.

Indian Health Service offers resource information about American Indian and Alaska Native substance abuse prevention and intervention programs. This website also provides recommended journals, bibliographies and other citations to alcohol, tobacco, suicide, violent and abuse behaviors among the American Indian population.

American Indian/Native American Violence/Domestic Violence Resources

American Indian Development Associates (AIDA) is an important resource for American Indian Tribes working in Education, Health and Justice/Criminal issues. Alcohol appears to be the number one contributor to the violence witnessed in Indian Country.

The Council Chief State School Officers is a resource for preventing alcohol and other drugs among American Indian youth. This website focuses specifically on programs that are currently being implemented and is accessible by internet. Log on the Office of Indian Education. This link will provide specific Native American prevention practices used by other states.

The Tri-Ethnic Center is research centers that focus on the dynamics of the social, psychological and cultural factors working with the American Indian population. The subjects on substance abuse and related to juvenile delinquency, dropouts, school violence, domestic violence, anger and other substance abuse disorders.

American Indian/Native American Suicide Prevention Resources

The Healing of Nations website provides information about American Indian suicide and Crisis prevention. This website provides statistical information, the psychology of suicide and identifying risk factors. Strategies and healthy ways of coping and healing methods are provided.

This website is from the American Psychological Association that is committed to American Indian and Alaska Natives. This website provides testimony that was presented to the U.S. Senate Hearing of Native American Youth Suicide Activities.


Nebraska Partners in Prevention. Cultural Competency. Retrieved from:

Center for Substance Abuse Prevention. Cultural Competence. Retrieved from:

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