OC Youth Council uses social norms to discourage underage drinking – OECD

Members of Orange County Youth Council have an important message for their peers: the vast majority of high school students avoid alcohol.

Last year, 18 high school and college students who serve on the council worked with the Orange County Department of Education and the California Friday Night Live Partnership to address underage drinking using “the social norms approach.

The idea is to correct misperceptions about alcohol consumption. But rather than pointing out that only 14% of 11th graders drank alcohol within 30 days of taking the California Healthy Kids survey, student leaders are focusing on the 86% of high school juniors who choose not to drink.

Of course, that’s not how underage drinking is often portrayed in movies and TV shows.

“I think people perceive that underage drinking is more prevalent than it actually is because of what’s portrayed in the media, which gives the impression that a greater part of the minors participate in drug addiction when in reality most are just normal teenagers. things like playing video games and texting friends, said Kahel Zedekiah, a senior at Santiago High School in the Garden Grove Unified School District.

Once young people realize that avoiding alcohol is the norm, research suggests it becomes a natural and often more appealing option. To get the message across, Youth Council members and OECD staff have developed posters like the one pictured below, along with educational materials and public service announcements that support healthy choices by promoting healthy choices. positive standards.

Make informed decisions

“Imagine a middle schooler entering high school thinking that 80 percent of his peers drink,” Bolsa Grande High School student Catherine Le told Garden Grove Unified. “What do you think they will be more likely to do when a friend offers them alcohol? Drink.”

“I think our perception of the world around us and our need to fit in with others can have a huge impact on our behavior,” Le added. “I sincerely believe that accurate information can help teens make safer decisions that will help improve their lives rather than lead them into a dangerous life.”

The Orange County Youth Council was launched in the summer of 2020 to help lead countywide substance abuse prevention efforts and mental health initiatives from a youth perspective. Its members include students from Friday Night Live High School chapters across the county and members of the FNL California Youth Council statewide.

the Orange County Friday Night Live Partnership is funded by the OC Health Care Agency’s Alcohol and Drug Prevention and Education Team. Programs include Friday Night Live chapters in high school, Club Live groups in middle school, and Friday Night Live Kids in upper elementary grades.

For more information on any of these initiatives, contact OECD Coordinator Elke Petras at 714-966-4458 or [email protected]

About Marjorie C. Hudson

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