Social Norms

Social Norms

Social Norms

Social norms is an evidence based approach to promoting positive behaviour change in young people. Although it is best known for successfully reducing drug use, it has much wider applicability in promoting positive behaviour change.

It usually involves a local campaign that educates students about actual norms, highlighting the discrepancy between these and perceived norms.

It is an approach particularly well suited to Leicestershire

NCB highlight the social norms or normative approach as an honest, positive and effective way of improving the health of young people in comparison to ineffective approaches such as "health terrorism", in which extreme negative scenarios are presented to young people that are irrelevant to their experience and can undermine the credibility of the educator.

"Recent research demonstrates that normative education is a highly important positive influence on knowledge and behaviour change.
It also provides opportunities within the curriculum to address attitude development and discuss what influences young people's decision making"(DfES, 2004, Drugs: Guidance for Schools).

A social norms approach provides information which is realistic and relevant to the lives of young people. This fits well with current recommendations for the approach of life skills programmes, which take a positive approach to health education that does not attempt to shock or create feelings of guilt in pupils.

Useful links:

Social norms overview

Social Norms Guidebook

Positive Guidance on aspects of Personal, Social and Health Education (NCB, 2006)

Social Sense work in Swindon schools (Children & Young People Now, 2013)