New Tech High School in Zion, is implementing a science-based prevention strategy known as the social norms campaign to correct misperceptions about tobacco usage among the students.
The social norms campaign normalizes positive behavior instead of emphasizing negative, risky behavior. Research shows that youth think alcohol, tobacco and other drug use among peers is more prevalent than it actually is. According to a recent study, 34% of the New Tech High student body believes that more than 50% of their peers use tobacco, when the actual user rate is 15%. This misconception may cause youth to feel pressured into using harmful substances and justified when they do. When youth are given the accurate information and they perceive the true norm, they can feel more comfortable abstaining from use.
The social norms campaign at New Tech High School will focus on educating students based on the data received from the Illinois Youth Survey. The school participated in the survey in 2014.
The Illinois Youth Survey is a self-report behavioral assessment and is completed every two years. This campaign will focus on the message that the majority of students do not use tobacco products. The campaign will be implemented in September 2015 and will feature posters and desktop backgrounds designed with the input of New Tech students. Additional campaign activities will occur throughout the school year. Activities can include focus groups to gather feedback from students about the campaign message, interactive activities at lunch time, and poster voting to determine additional poster designs.
The New Tech Social Norms campaign is a partnership between New Tech High School and the Tobacco Free Lake County program of the Lake County Health Department and Community Health Center. (SOURCE: Lake County Health Department)
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