This year, Life Skills
Coordinators Carole Allert and Joann Andrews have expanded the curriculum
beyond teaching lessons on social skills and character education to include a
new strategy for reducing negative social behaviors in students.
The strategy, called the
“Social Normative Education Approach,” is an environmental prevention
strategy, which uses study data to change false perceptions of community
The Life Skills
program’s Social Normative Education Poster Campaign is a replication of
Northern Illinois University’s (NIU) Social Norms Approach, based out of
its University Health Enhancement Services.
This particular model has
been used to significantly reduce the ‘binge’ drinking on NIU’s campus.
During the past ten years, NIU has experienced over a 44% reduction in
binge drinking by students.
The Social Normative
Education theory states that the reduction in the number of students who
believe in a false norm will increase the number of students that exhibit
behaviors consistent with the ‘healthy’ true norm.
“In other words, if we
can change a student’s perception from their exaggerated view that
“everyone is doing it” to
the reality that only three out of every ten students are actually doing it,
it is likely that the students will not engage in the negative behavior,”
Mrs. Allert said.
According to Mrs.
Andrews, negative perceptions are often overestimated, and this adds to and
reinforces peer pressure to indulge in the negative behavior.
Middle school students
frequently overestimate the number of their peers who drink, smoke
cigarettes, smoke marijuana, and make other bad choices.
Through Social Normative
Education, an accurate perception of use will be established and will
increase students’ positive decision-making skills.
The objective of the
campaign was for students to know the actual percentage of Galesburg CUSD
#205 middle school students who smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, and smoke
marijuana, as well as how many students choose to talk with their parents when they have a problem, avoid trouble with others, and follow directions.
With this knowledge, it
is hoped that there would be a decrease in the percentage of students who
exhibit the negative behaviors and an increase in the percentage of students
who exhibit the positive behaviors.
When students realize
the truth about many situations, peer pressure is considerably alleviated and
students can make a more informed choice concerning negative behavior.
granted by Sandy Wallace