Social Norms: Highlighting the Positive

Social norms are the expectations and beliefs we hold around what is acceptable–for youth, families, individuals, and the community as a whole. Our perceptions about youth, their beliefs about each other, and what data and science tell us about youth behaviors are important factors when working to reduce youth substance use and promote overall health and well-being.

Beginning March 2013, the Coalition released a series of new posters with positive messaging that are posted at local high school campuses. Youth were very involved in the development of the messaging through focus groups and feedback participation over several months.

Traditional prevention efforts have often focused on negative behaviors and a just say no approach with a minimum of positive outcomes. The messaging in this series of posters reflects our intentional switch of focusing on the positive behaviors that our youth are engaged in. Science tells us that this switch of highlighting the positive leads to a growth in positive behaviors.

The Truth is… Nevada County teens are a great group of young people who are making mostly good choices in their lives. Recent data tells us that in many areas it appears that youth are reducing their substance use – except for marijuana – and they are experiencing greater connectedness at school and in the community.  So what do we do to help them continue making good choices? We arm them with the truth: Most teens don’t use alcohol or other drugs.