Major Paper Assignment
In 2010, The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) released a policy statement addressing the
complex relationships among children, adolescents, substance abuse, and the media. This
assignment requires a critical examination of the AAP publication and a critique of a media
portrayal of substance use, with links made to the AAP statement and course material.
Conclusions about the implications of the media portrayals and the policies recommended by
the AAP also should be made. Successful completion of this paper will require work over
multiple weeks. A two paragraph summary of the proposed example of substance use
portrayal in the media is due by the end of Week 3. The full paper is due at the end of Week 7.
This assignment proceeds in four steps:
Step One: Read the AAP Policy Statement located in the Classroom Resources folder. Make
some notes for yourself about points of agreement or disagreement you have with the
statement and specific findings regarding media depictions of substance use that you want to
assess when you write the paper.
Step Two: Find a current example of substance use portrayal seen in the media; for example,
scenes from a movie, a television show, or a commercial; print ads; or portrayals found in “new
media” as discussed in the AAP article. The Internet is a good tool for finding film or television
portrayals of substance use as well as examples of print ads if ready access to first-hand media
is not available. A two paragraph summary of the proposed example of substance use portrayal
in the media that will be used for the paper is due by the end of Week 3. This proposal is a
separate assignment and is worth 10 points.
Step Three: Write the paper. Begin the paper with an introduction that summarizes the main
findings of the AAP article and previews what will be covered in the coming pages.
Next, compare and contrast the portrayal of substance use found in the media with the
information learned about that substance in the class and reading materials. What messages
about the substance are being portrayed? How accurate are those messages relative to the
actual data on substance use? Be sure to cite the reading materials as needed.
Continue by comparing and contrasting the portrayal of substance use found in the media with
the criticism of media portrayals found in the AAP paper. Does the media example match their
arguments or contradict them? What links and connections can be made? Be sure to cite the
article as needed.
Next, draw some conclusions about the portrayal of substance use found in the media,
addressing the following: What are the implications of this type of portrayal? What messages
are being sent and to whom? Are those messages an accurate representation of the use of this
substance? Should media portrayals be required to be accurate in their depictions of use,
showing both positive and negative consequences?
Finally, review the guidelines suggested by the AAP at the end of their policy statement and
address the following: Although directed specifically at pediatricians, which of those
recommendations is most important? Why? Are these recommendations necessary? If
followed, will they be effective in addressing the concerns raised earlier in the article? Be sure
to cite sources as needed.
Step Four: Proofread and spell-check the finished paper.
The required length of this paper is 11 pages, plus a required a cover page and a reference list.
Papers must comply with APA formatting rules, including font size and margins, and must have
a scholarly focus and tone. Quoting of published material and use of the first-person “I” are not
permitted and will result in point loss. All source material must be paraphrased into your own
words and cited appropriately.
On submission your work will auto-run through Turnitin.com’s plagiarism checker software.
The grading rubric located on the next page and in the syllabus details specific grading criteria.