In most schools, Dover included, students incorrectly perceive exaggerated drug use among their peers.
Most students have a tendency to believe that there is more drug use than there actually is. The Dover Coalition for Youth is implementing the In Our School social norming campaign to address this problem. Social norming is a marketing approach that uses facts to counter misperceptions. The goals of the In Our School campaign are to counter the perception that most students in Dover choose to use drugs, and provide factual information showing that, in reality, most students in Dover choose not to use substances.
When students have exaggerated beliefs about drug use among their peers, they are more likely to use themselves because drug use seems like it is the norm. This leads students to believe or feel like they will be accepted and fit in if they use drugs. The In Our School campaign makes it clear that not everyone is doing it and that you are in the norm if you are drug free.
“People will say that everyone at Dover High is smoking or drinking or using drugs. There is a perception that there is a lot of drug use. I’m going in to my junior year and I can tell you that isn’t the case. Not everyone’s doing it.” Says Tina Gibbons, a junior at Dover High School.
The In Our School campaign has been developed in an effort to give students the facts. Each year the Coalition partners with the Dover School Department and surveys students in grades 7 through 12. The campaign uses this data to counter the misperceptions and demonstrate what is really going on.
The campaign is being launched at the start of school and will continue throughout the year. Students will be getting the message through posters, radio PSAs, social media messaging, and various other methods.