Who Would Risk It?
Alcohol can be a difficult substance to teach about. Many now claim that alcohol presents the biggest drug problem we have in England and yet its use is accepted and even encouraged in our society, even amongst young people. For many teachers there is a dilemma - how do they teach our children about the risks of drinking alcohol whilst at the same time knowing that they enjoy a drink themselves?
This resource aims to give teachers and schools some tools to explore the complexities of alcohol use within out society. There is an emphasis on identifying, assessing and managing the risks associated with alcohol as well as looking at the way it is both 'helpful' and 'harmful' in society.
There is also a focus on the social norms approach to health education. Traditional health education has focussed on teaching young people the harms associated with risky behaviour and yet we know that young people don't smoke, use illegal drugs or drink alcohol because of the risks. The social norms approach works on the principle that humans are group oriented - we tend to look to others to determine our own behaviours and decisions. At the same time we also tend to over-estimate the risky behaviours our peers are engaged in and under-estimate the safe, protective and positive behaviours displayed by the majority.
The social norms approach aims to correct young people's misperceptions of the amount of risky behaviour their peers are engaged in and thus increase the positive behaviours amongst the group. This is an evidence based approach to health education which is proving to be effective in reducing a whole range of risky behaviours.
Lesson Two of 'Alcohol: Who would risk it?' provides a resource which helps young people explore the reasons why they may misperceive the behaviours of others as well as promoting the positive behaviours of the majority. Gloucestershire schools have a hugely valuable and unique resource in the Gloucestershire Online Pupil Survey which allows them to identify the positive behaviours at a very local level.
However, the social norms model is not just a lesson - it is approach which can engage the whole school community and contribute significantly in reducing risky behaviours.