Many still make decisions based on peer pressure |

Many still make decisions based on peer pressure

I am a parent volunteer who has been working with the Summit Prevention Alliance (SPA) on the Social Norms (“This Is Us”) Program.

In response to Summit High School student Heather Hildreth’s letter, I would like to commend Heather and all of the SHS students who are smart enough, mature enough, and have the strength of character to choose not to drink or do drugs.

I also would like to commend Heather’s parents and other parents in the community who have instilled these values in their children and serve as positive role models for them.

Unfortunately, as Heather points out in her letter, not all students are as lucky. Some students do have parents who allow them to drink or do drugs, and some even partake with their students.

I agree entirely with Heather this is a serious problem and needs to be addressed. SPA has been discussing and considering extending the Social Norms program to include a parent survey and campaign aimed at encouraging parents to be positive role models.

The Social Norms Approach is not something that SPA made up because it thinks SHS students are easily manipulated. Social Norms is an approach that has been used nationally. It is based on solid statistics and studies that show such an approach helps reduce risky behaviors.

Heather does not think students would base a “potentially life-

threatening decision on whether or not their peers choose to do so.”

It sounds as if Heather does not make decisions based on peer pressure. I believe, however, and statistics support the notion, that many students are influenced, to varying degrees, by peer pressure.

Social Norms tells students and the community that not “everyone” at the high school drinks or smokes pot, as is commonly perceived.

This information can help those students who are influenced by what their peers are doing. They can make decisions based on accurate information, at least, rather than on false perceptions. Our surveys confirm there are students at the high school who drink and smoke pot, but the statistics tell us that not anywhere near “everyone” does.

Social Norms aims to highlight the positive things students are doing. I have often heard SHS students say (and even write to the newspaper) that they resent being represented or perceived by the community as all being bad.

Social Norms is attempting to change that attitude by advertising the truth about the many positive things our students are doing.

Having worked with the people at SPA for several years, I can assure you that, contrary to Heather’s opinion, they think highly of and care deeply about our students. Social Norms and other programs that SPA sponsors, like the Asset Builders program, are all intended to benefit and encourage our students.

If you have any ideas or comments about the Social Norms program, I urge you to come to our next meeting and discuss them. Call SPA for the date and time. We certainly could use more volunteers (both students and parents) to contribute their ideas and help with the program.

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