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Social Norming Marketing Campaign
A Researched-Based Strategy to
Combat Underage Drinking and Substance Use

What is Social Norming?
Unlike the usual “scare tactics” social norming aims to correct the misperceptions students have about what is typical drinking behavior among their peers in high school. Social Norms are behaviors, thoughts or feelings shared by most people in a given group (over 50%).

The Real Majority
People misperceive the accurate norms related to substance abuse for a lot of reasons. Some of these include the media, scare campaigns, conversation distortions that say everyone is doing it and selective memory of people using substances.

Why did the Healthy Community-Healthy Kids Coalition choose to implement a social norms marketing campaign?
Healthy Communities-Healthy Kids Coalition decided to utilize a research based strategy to reduce the perception of alcohol use in the high school.

Social Norms
Where did the statistics come from on the posters?
The statistics were taken from the 2010 Search Institute survey results from Haddam-Killingworth High School students. The students were asked if they had drunk alcohol, smoked cigarettes or smoked marijuana in the last 30 days among other questions.

How do you know that the students surveyed were telling the truth?
There was no way that a survey could be traced back to a certain student. Survey administrators were also trained to inform the students that their survey was completely anonymous.

Why do Misperceptions Matter?
There can be differences between what we THINK our friends do and what our friends REALLY do. Overestimating or underestimating what our peers do can have negative consequences. Parents who believe “everybody does it but not my child” may be less likely to have crucial conversations with their kids about the dangers of alcohol.

What is the Solution?
Hear the conversation (what teens and their parents say), and then steer the conversation to correct any misperceptions and promote the positive norms. In other words, find the untold goodness and continuously spread it through school-based activities, or even dinner table conversations.
Social Norming

When your teen attends a party:

Talk to the hosting parent(s) to ensure that alcohol will not be served or consumed by youth.
Set and enforce a curfew.
Arrange safe transportation to and from the party.
Be awake when your teen arrives home & check for signs of alcohol use.

When your teen hosts a party:

Watch the premises at all times to make sure that alcohol is not served or consumed.
Limit the number of guests, know who is invited, and enforce a “no-crashing” policy.
Do not permit guests to leave and then return to the party.
Notify parents or police if teens arrive at the party under the influence.

Students engaged in after school and out-of-school activities are more successful in school

Many parents breathe a sigh of relief when they know that their children are in school during the day, safe and sound. What happens when the bell rings and the school day is done? In America today, 1 in 4 youth are alone and unsupervised after school. There is strong research supporting the notion that students engaged in after school and out-of-school activities volunteer more, are more physically active, are less likely to use drugs and are more successful in school. According to other research, teens are most likely to commit violent crimes during the after school hours between 3pm-7pm. Teens who use drugs are more likely to engage in violent behavior, steal, abuse other drugs, and join gangs. Teens who do not participate in after school programs are nearly three times more likely to skip classes than teens who do participate. They are also three times more likely to use marijuana or other drugs, and they are more likely to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes and engage in sexual activity. (YMCA of the USA, March 2001)

Support your child’s interests and get them involved!
Is your child engaged in an out-of-school or after school activity, such as scouting, sports, a club, or volunteer work? If not, why not? What can you do to support their interests and help them become engaged with friends or the community? One way to help them is to be a positive role model. Youth with at least one parent who volunteers are nearly three times more likely to be regular volunteers than youth from non-volunteer families. When disengaged youth are introduced to quality volunteer opportunities, the likelihood that they will engage in risky behaviors decreases and their level of social trust increases along with their academic achievement. Research shows that teens who are engaged with their family or community are less likely to turn to drugs or violence.

You can help make service and volunteering your child’s anti-drug! Other ways to help keep your child safe and engaged is to ask about their interests and their friends. Encourage your children to get involved in activities that match their interests. Trying different activities channels an adolescent's curiosity into things that are safe and fun. Positive activities are good ways to meet friends who have positive attitudes. After school programs can provide a safe haven where adolescents can participate in activities with their peers.

Resources for Parents
To learn how structured activities can keep kids from using drugs, go to For additional volunteering resources visit,, or contact your child’s school, Online Information cited from the Brattleboro, Vermont Prevention Coalition.

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P.O. Box 432, Higganum, CT 06441-0432
(860) 345-7498