For this project, MOST of Us conducted a pioneering survey to assess what parents do to prevent their teens from engaging in substance abuse. The results showed that the vast majority of Montana parents report taking constructive steps to protect their children from substance abuse. However, these same parents significantly underestimate the protective behaviors of other Montana parents.

The parents surveyed believe that the majority of Montana parents are not taking action –such as consistently communicating their values, setting out clear rules, or imposing curfews and other limits — to prevent their children from using alcohol and other drugs.

Social norms theory predicts that parents might feel pressure to conform with what they misperceive is a norm of lenience in parenting. Conversely, if parents are given accurate, credible information about what typical parents do to protect their children from substance use, then they will be more likely to maintain or even raise their parenting standards. To this end, MOST of Us created the Community and Parent Involvement Campaigns. The Community Involvement Campaign stressed the importance of local community involvement with Montana’s youth. The Parent Involvement Campaign promoted specific actions that parents can take to keep their children healthy and free of alcohol and other substance abuse. These messages were conveyed through radio and television public service announcements. Additionally, MOST of Us provided training and technical assistance to Montana communities for the purpose of building local capacity to develop and support social norms efforts.

Sponsor: Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Addictive and Mental Disorders Division