The influence of those with whom we regularly socially interact is great.

Family influence is highly significant. Individuals from families with substance abuse problems are more likely to have drug problems than individuals from families without such problems. Individuals from highly competitive families are more likely to be highly competitive and to ostracize than individuals from less competitive families.

Peer influence is also significant. The greatest predictor of a young personís behavior is the behavior of his/her peers. If a peer group drinks and does drugs, a youngster who is part of the group is likely to engage in the same behavior. If the group bullies and ostracizes others, a youngster who belongs to the group is likely to bully and put down others. On the other hand if the group is critical of heavy drinking, and is supportive and understanding of others, a youngster who belongs is likely to behave positively.

Promoting pro-social norms refers to engaging groups and individuals in positive behavior and aligning individuals with pro-social groups. Students may be encouraged to align with pro-social norms through a variety of methods including:

  • Participation in school based conflict resolution and peer mediation activities,
  • Involvement in school wide prevention campaigns targeting drugs, violence, bullying, social ostracism or at risk sexual behavior, or
  • Reading, discussing, writing about and role playing pro-social alternatives to problem behavior.
Teachers can provide positive role models and reinforce pro-social behavior. Likewise, school administrators can provide clear and enforced anti-drug and anti-bullying policies that promote lower levels of these problem behaviors.

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