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Social Norms Health and Safety Promotion
for Middle Schools and High Schools

Start a Social Norms Program : Web-Based Survey Instruments : Alcohol Survey Results : Bullying Survey Results : Print Media : Electronic Media : Curriculum Infusion : Social Norms Resources : References

Pioneers in Research and Delivery of the Social Norms Approach:
Substance Abuse Prevention, Violence Prevention, and Health Promotion

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Project Directors

 

H. Wesley Perkins, Ph.D.
Dept. of Anthropology/Sociology
Phone: (315) 781-3437
Fax: (315) 781-3718
E-mail: perkins@hws.edu

David W. Craig, Ph.D.
Dept. of Chemistry
Phone: (315) 781-3611
Fax: (315) 781-3860
E-mail: craig@hws.edu



This project supports schools in developing a social norms approach that employs a print and electronic marketing campaign to reduce harmful misperceptions about student alcohol, tobacco, other drug, health, and school safety norms. Program components may include (1) a web-based survey strategy for determining local norms and perceptions, (2) print media campaigns to communicate local norms, (3) electronic media to expand and enhance student exposure and engagement, and (4) curriculum development to infuse conversations about these issues into the classroom. This project provides leadership in alcohol, other drug, and violence prevention nationally through research publications, conference presentations and workshops, focused school consulting and training, and through development of electronic tools for social norms delivery.

Recent research on thousands of middle and high school students from across the nation shows clear and pervasive misperceptions of alcohol, tobacco, other drug, health, and safety norms. Moreover, the pattern of emergence of these misperceptions by grade clearly point toward key developmental periods for strategic prevention intervention.

Here are Some Things that You Can do to Start a Social Norms Program at Your School

  • Provide a workshop on the Social Norms Approach - bringing theory into practice

  • Provide training and resources for data collection in a school social norms prevention program

  • Provide training and development of print media for a social norms prevention program

  • Provide training and development of electronic media for a social norms prevention program

  • Provide workshops and teacher training on ATOD curriculum infusion

Web-Based Survey Instruments to Assess School Norms and Program Impact

  • Any of our survey instruments can be used with questions customized for your needs. Secure user accounts can be established to ensure the integrity of your data. Thousands of middle and high school students have participated in these surveys in recent years from across the country.

  • You may try out a sample survey below that has been customized for many of our participating middle and high schools. The survey is available in both English and in Spanish.

  • Automatic coding by our web server means that results can be made available as soon as the surveys have been completed. Data bases generated by the online surveys are cleaned and validated to remove the few intentionally erroneous submissions by respondents that occasionlly occur, thus providing reliable results (data cleaning procedure).

Survey Results Examining Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Norms

2008 Survey results from over 52,000 secondary students from 78 middle and high schools in eleven regionally diverse states was recently completed and presented at the 2008 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach in San Francisco, California. The presentation abstract and results handouts can be downloaded here.

2005 Survey results from over 28,000 secondary students from 50 middle and high schools in eight regionally diverse states was presented at the 2005 International Social Norms Conference in Toronto, Canada. The presentaton abstract and results handouts can be downloaded here.

Survey results from over 3,800 New Jersey students in 2006 attending 7 high schools across the state.

Some additional sample results from a single school can be seen by viewing the links below:


Survey Results Examining Bullying and School Safety Norms

  • Perkins, H. Wesley, David W. Craig, and Jessica M. Perkins. "Using Social Norms to Reduce Bullying: A Research Intervention in Five Middle Schools." Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 14(5):703-722, 2011. (abstract, free full text).
  • "Where Does Bullying Take Place among Adolescents When They are at School?" presented by H. Wesley Perkins, Jessica Perkins, and David Craig at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 11, 2009. (abstract, handouts).
  • "Misperceptions of Bullying Norms as a Risk Factor Associated with Violence among Middle School Students," presented by H. Wesley Perkins, David Craig and Jessica Perkins at the American Public Health Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, November 10, 2009.(abstract, handouts).
  • "Assessing Bullying In New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying The Social Norms Model To Adolescent Violence" breakout session presented by David W. Craig and H. Wesley Perkins at the 2008 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, CA, July 21, 2008 (abstract, slides).
  • "Social Norms Research on School Violence in England: Another Look at Misperceived Peer Norms as the Biggest Bully of All" breakout session presented by H. Wesley Perkins at the 2008 National Conference on the Social Norms Approach, Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport, CA, July 21, 2008 (abstract, slides).
  • "Assessing Bullying in Secondary Schools with a New Online Survey: Applying the Social Norms Model to Adolescent Violence," workshop presented by H. Wesley Perkins and David W. Craig at The National Conference on the Social Norms Model, Denver, CO, July 28, 2006 (program handout, slides)


Take a look at the program components below for an introduction to strategies that can help you in your alcohol and other drug prevention and health and safety promotion programming.



Transforming Data Into Action Through Print Media
If you want to...

- bring social norms messages to where students, faculty, and staff work...as they work

- dynamically and
instantaneously update
your prevention messages

- incorporate multimedia
video and sound into your prevention messages

Then think about using your computer network for prevention!

If you want to...

- bring social norms messages to where students, faculty, and staff work...as they work

- expand the number of individuals working toward prevention on your campus

- enhance your prevention program while strengthening
your academic curriculum
at the same time


Then you'll want to think about growing alcohol and other drug content into your academic program!


  • Newspaper columns reporting characteristics and accomplishments of the student body.

  • Newspaper and Poster Advertisements reporting positive norms to the school community.

  • Catalog of Media. Check out this catalog of media created by school districts implementing social norms prevention programs.


Transforming Data Into Action Through Electronic Media

  • Communicating school norms through computer networks expands the capabilities and intensity of program ose by bringing messages to desktops across the school. Posters and messages can be intantaneously deployed without printing and distribution costs. Updates can be made as new information becomes available. See screen-shot illustrations of software tools that we have developed below.


Electronic Media Campaigns
  • Screen Saver- Broadcasts social norms messages without relying on a user to start the program. Computer self-initiates this screen saver program.

  • Multimedia Interactive Campus Factoids and Reactiods- Students can browse previously published Campus Factoids and related student-produced videos, supplementary survey research data, and photos.

  • World Wide Web Site Resource for Students and Faculty- Brings social norms information while supporting academic work. Creates research resources for the campus community and deliver prevention messages along the way.


Curriculum Infusion to Grow Conversations About Health and Safety Issues in the Classroom
  • Workshops for developing faculty interest in ATOD issues - helping faculty from a variety of disciplines to get together and discuss ways in which they might integrate readings, discussion, projects, etc. about alcohol and other drugs into their existing courses or into new courses they plan to develop.


Resources on the Social Norms Approach to Prevention
  • Social Norms 101 Primer
    This page contains a collection of brief introductory articles on the social norms approach and links to case studies that have successfully applied this strategy to health promotion.

  • Guide to Marketing Social Norms for Health Promotion in Schools and Communities
    A comprehensive and practical guidebook authored by Michael Haines, H. Wesley Perkins, Richard Rice and Gregory Barker published by the National Social Norms Resource Center Center in 2004. This guidebook gives a theoretical overview as well as step by step tasks for implementing a social norms marketing intervention in high school and community settings. (104 pages)

  • Social Norms Approach Videos
    New video released providing short overview of the social norms approach to health promotion. To download, click for 9 minute WMV VIDEO or MOV VIDEO. (Note: MOV files may take several minutes to download on some computers.)

    The Truth About Teen Alcohol Use 101: A Social Norms Approach. The Truth About Alcohol Use is a groundbreaking video that uses a social norms approach to show high schools students that most of their peers DO NOT DRINK. In it Dr. David Craig investigates the difference between what Riverfront High School students perceive and what is really true at their school. An anonymous survey gives typical results: While Riverfront teens assume others drink, actually most do not. Produced by: Discover Films, Inc.

  • Youth Health & Safety Project
    The Youth Health and Safety Project of Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a broad collection of education and research initiatives designed to support social norms programming in secondary schools focusing on alcohol, tobacco, and and other drugs prevention, bullying and violence prevention, and overweight and underweight and other health risk prevention.

  • HWS Alcohol Education Project
    The Alcohol Education Project of Hobart and William Smith Colleges is a broad collection of education and research initiatives designed to better inform students and college personnel about alcohol and other drugs and related social norms and address problems of abuse.

  • National Social Norms Institute
    Based at the University of Virginia. this institute offers examples of other social norms campaigns and research.


References on Misperceptions and the Social Norms Approach to Prevention in Secondary Schools
  • Perkins, H. Wesley, David W. Craig, and Jessica M. Perkins. "Using Social Norms to Reduce Bullying: A Research Intervention in Five Middle Schools." Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 14(5):703-722, 2011. (abstract, free full text).
  • Perkins, H. Wesley (Editor). 2003. The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Click here for book contents and publisher ordering information
  • Perkins, H. Wesley, and David W. Craig. 2003. "The Imaginary Lives of Peers: Patterns of Substance Use and Misperceptions of Norms among Secondary School Students." In H. W. Perkins (ed.), The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Linkenbach, Jeffrey W. and Perkins, H. Wesley. 2003. "MOST of Us Are Tobacco Free: An Eight-Month Social Norms Campaign Reducing Youth Initiation of Smoking in Mondana." In H. W. Perkins (ed.), The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Haines, Michael P., Barker, Gregory P., and Rice, Richard. 2003. "Using Social Norms to Reduce Alcohol and Tobacco Use in Two Midwestern High Schools." In H. W. Perkins (ed.), The Social Norms Approach to Preventing School and College Age Substance Abuse: A Handbook for Educators, Counselors, and Clinicians, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • William B. Hansen, "School-Based Alcohol Prevention Programs" Alcohol Health and Research World, 17, 1993, pp54-60
  • William B. Hansen and John H. Graham, "Preventing Alcohol, Marijuana, and Cigarette Use among Adolescents: Peer Pressure Resistance Training versus Establishing Conservative Norms", Preventive Medicine, 20,1991, pp414-430 {multi-school pre-post evaluation of norms education intervention in comparison with resistance training intervention}
  • Alice Evans and Kris Bosworth, "Building Effective Drug Education Programs", Research Bulletin, December 1997 (published by the Center for Evaluation, Development, and Research for Phi Delta Kappa International)
  • The DCP/SAFE social norms campaign in DeKalb, IL has a web site with sample posters and outcome measures in a school setting. See this link for more information on their project.
  • Here is a Salt Lake Tribune article about the project in Park City, Utah.
  • Hughes, Clarissa, Roberta Julian, Matthew Richman, Ron Mason, and Gillian Long. 2008. "Harnessing the Power of Perception: Reducing alcohol-related harm among rural teenagers." Youth Studies Australia 27(2):26-35.
  • Lintonen, T P and A I Konu. 2004. "The Misperceived Social Norm of Drunkenness Among Early Adolescents in Finland." Health Education Research 19(1):64-70.
  • Ott, C. H., & Doyle, L. H. 2005. “An evaluation of the small group norms challenging model: changing substance use misperceptions in five urban high schools.” The High School Journal, 88, 45-55.
  • Page, Randy M., Ferenc Ihasz, Jacob Hantiu, Jaromir Simonek, and Renata Klarova. 2008. "Social Normative Perceptions of Alcohol Use and Episodic Heavy Drinking Among Central and Eastern European Adolescents." Substance Use and Misuse 43:361-73.
  • Page, Randy M, Ferenc Ihasz, Jaromir Simonek, Renata Klarova, and Hantiu. 2006. "Cigarette Smoking, Friendship Factors, and Social Norm Perceptions Among Central and Eastern European High School Students." Journal of Drug Education 36(3):213-31.


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