By: Gina Johnson, B.A.
YSB Chemical Health Prevention Specialist in South Washington County Schools (D833)
“How many of you think the majority of your peers are drinking, smoking or doing some type of drug?” The majority of hands shoot up throughout the entire class.
As the Youth Service Bureau’s Chemical Health Prevention Specialist one of my roles is to do chemical health presentations in the high school and middle school classrooms in South Washington County School District. Every presentation I ask the students if they think everyone in their grade is doing some type of drug. Their answers are almost always “yes.”
I ask the students this because of social norms: the perception of use vs the reality of use. Our perception of use has a great influence on our own attitudes and behaviors.
Unfortunately, our perceptions aren’t always right. Students and adults tend to overestimate the usage rates around them- and it’s important for youth to know that not everyone is doing it.