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OCYC Social Norms Campaign

From October 2020 – September 2021, tUnderage-Drinking-1 FINAL.jpghe Orange County Youth Council (OCYC) conducted a social norms campaign that seeked to address the issue of underage drinking by promoting a positive narrative around not using alcohol before the age of 21. This strategy is called the social norms approach and is part of a larger statewide effort to reduce underage drinking. 

According to the National Social Norms Center at Michigan State University, the basic premise of the social norms approach is that we tend to conform to how other people behave. If we believe that most people behave in a certain way, it makes that behavior a more natural or attractive option. Research has found that individuals often have misperceptions about the behaviors of other people, leading to erroneous beliefs about social norms. The social norms approach aims to correct individuals' misperceptions about their peer groups by providing them with accurate information about their peers.

Using data to build a comprehensive marketing campaign, OCYC worked to change the belief that underage drinking is a common practice among Orange County youth.

The OCYC and the Orange County Department of Education (OCDE) utilized data from the 2017-2019 California Healthy Kids Survey to emphasize the positive message behind some of the results. The data, which was collected prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, shows that 14% of 11th graders surveyed, reported consuming one or more drinks of alcohol, at least one time, in the past 30 days. These results reflect 34,958 11th grade participants who participated in the survey, representing 13 Orange County school districts and 66 schools. For the social norms message, the campaign highlighted that 86% of 11th grade students surveyed reported not consuming alcohol in the past 30 days.

To get the message out, OCYC members and OCDE staff developed youth-targeted posters, adult-targeted educational materials, and created public service announcements to change the community's misperceptions and promote positive norms that support young people to make healthy choices. 

Click here to view Underage Drinking Prevention Poster 1 and Underage Drinking Prevention Poster 2.

If would like printed copies of the posters, please contact Elke Petras, Coordinator, at​​