The Milford Prevention Council uses its Social Norms campaign to show the community that some of their perceptions are not correct.
“If Johnny jumped off a bridge, would you do it, too?” It’s a question asked by generations of parents to demonstrate the dangers presented when a youngster follows his friends without considering the consequences.
In today’s world of potential dangers to our youth, drugs and alcohol loom large over communities across the country. Professionals in the area of prevention came to surprising conclusions when they looked at the perception of how others behave. Investigating and presenting current trends and influences among youth is what “Social Norms” are all about. To boil it down to the basics, when people think harmful behavior is typical in a society, they are more likely to engage in it.
The Milford Prevention Council uses its Social Norms campaign to show the community that some of their perceptions are not correct. Results from surveys administered to Milford students in Middle and High School in the past year show only a small percentage of the youth in the community frequently use drugs and alcohol.
Billboards designed by high school students in Milford have been prominent around the city. As an example, an eye-opening headline on a billboard designed by Maren Sanchez of Jonathan Law High School says, “89% of Milford Teens Don’t Drink.” The message, shown as a cell phone text, says “You don’t have to drink to have a good time, you know.”
The Prevention Council’s Youth Council, comprised of middle and high school students, meets with adult council members monthly to offer their recommendations on how to accomplish the goal with their peer group. Through social media, school curriculum, press coverage and small group intervention the facts are presented to the target population, the youth.
This Social Norms environmental approach has been proven effective in deterring risky behavior across the country. The ongoing campaign conducted by the Milford Prevention Council educates the community about healthy behavior, the prevalent practice among young people in the Milford. The objective is to have youth recognize that participating in poor choices is not “what all the kids are doing,” and provide them with the facts to resist peer pressure.