Most students engage in and want to engage in positive, healthy behaviors. However, many of these students believe their peers actually engage in negative, unhealthy behaviors. As a result, students may do things they personally believe are wrong in order to gain acceptance by their peers.
Social Norming works by using “positive peer pressure” to educate students about what positive, healthy behaviors are truly acceptable by their peers. First, we look to determine these behaviors and beliefs about what behaviors are perceived as “normal” among peers. To do that, we carry out a survey of students at the school.
Then, in our healthy relationship campaigns, we focus on helping students understand six common types of abuse: physical, emotional, sexual, stalking, financial/economic, and digital. We also ask questions and encourage dialogue supporting protective factors—that is, skills and strategies to cope with stressful events or situations.
Some examples of supportive questions and affirmations we encourage in these classes:
- ”I showed my partner respect and that I value them.”
- “It is each partner’s right to have friends outside of the relationship.”
- “In the last year, have you spoken with an adult who encourages you?”