A new campaign that highlights the difference between reality and perception about teen drinking is being launched in communities throughout Minnesota. The research based-campaign, called Most of Us®, is funded by the Minnesota Department of Human Services. Citing many publicized cases of student deaths from alcohol abuse in recent years, Human Services Commissioner Cal Ludeman said, “This is an opportunity to turn the tide on teen drinking in Minnesota once and for all. We can’t afford to lose another young Minnesota life to alcohol poisoning or addiction.”
Communities involved in the Most of Us® marketing campaign include the independent school districts of Chisholm, Menahga, Mora, Ogilvie, Pierz, Pine River-Backus, Renville County West, Roseau, South St. Paul, Wadena, Warroad, and Yellow Medicine East. The campaign strategy was developed at Montana State University and has been used in the states of Wyoming, Montana and Missouri, as well as Canada, Europe and Israel.
Most kids overestimate the extent to which their peers are using alcohol, said Carol Falkowski, director of the DHS Chemical Health Division. Once they know the facts that their peers aren’t all using alcohol they cut their alcohol use because they want to be like the biggest share of the crowd. Falkowski said Minnesota is one of the first states to conduct the Most of Us® campaign in a comprehensive way. Plans are to include other parts of Minnesota in coming years.
“Our research team is very excited about this project’s potential for reducing underage drinking across Minnesota, said Jeffrey Linkenbach, a senior research scientist at Montana State University and an international leader in creating positive community norms models. Local communities have made great progress over the years in addressing this serious issue and we are impressed with how they are embracing this model as the next step in their success.”
The campaign is based on the results of Most of Us® survey of high schools in the target communities last winter that showed among other things that:
•78 percent of students in grades 7 through 12 drink less than once a month. Yet 68 percent of students think most students drink once a month or more;
•66 percent of students surveyed believe that drinking alcohol is “never a good thing for anyone my age to do,” while only 35 percent believe their peers think this too;
•70 percent believe that getting drunk “is never a good thing for anyone my age to do,” yet only 39 percent of students believe their peers think this;
•68 percent of students would rather not drink alcohol when hanging out with their friends;
•90 percent of students say their parents do not allow them or their friends to drink alcohol in their home. These findings and others will shape messages that will appear on billboards, in newspaper ads, through blogging, text messages, Web sites and other means over the next three years.
More information about Most of Us® is available at www.mostofus.org.