Associated Press
Posted: 01/05/2009 12:01:00 AM CST

Most teenagestudents at Renville County West say it’s wrong to get drunk. Butthey’re not necessarily sure about what their friends think.

A pilot project in 12 Minnesota school districts — includingRenville County West and Yellow Medicine East — is hoping to narrow thegap between perception and reality. The goal is to ultimately reduceunderage alcohol use and access to alcohol.

The campaign, dubbed “Most of Us,” was developed at MontanaState University in Bozeman. It’s based on research that shows themajority of young people don’t abuse alcohol but inaccurately thinkmany of their peers do.

“Most kids overestimate the extent to which their peers areusing alcohol. Once they know the facts that their peers aren’t allusing alcohol, they cut their alcohol use because they want to be likethe biggest share of the crowd,” said Carol Falkowski, director of thechemical health division at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

“This is a whole different type of prevention,” said AnnieTepfer, coordinator of the Renville Alliance for the Prevention ofAlcohol and Drugs.

“We are not going down that road of blaming who is at fault.What we really want to do is celebrate good, healthy behaviors andpoint that out as a role model,” she said.