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Thursday, November 11, 2004



There is an argument that telling kids about binge drinking simply reinforces their sense that everybody else is binge drinking. Instead, if they talk about binge drinking as a minority behavior, rather than talking about it as an epidemic, numbers seem to go down. There were some articles about this you can google. The point is that education can sometimes reinforce the same behavior it is trying to undermine, like the marijuana films ...


The approach Ennis writes about is called "Norm-based". Despite what people SAY about norm-based approaches, I think the jury is still out waiting for GOOD data. Unproven approaches get used because

A) There is nothing proven to work, and
B) College administrators have to do SOMETHING or people blame them when a legal adult goes and chokes on his/her own puke.

What is clear is that many college students COME to college with prior exposure to alcohol. It is also clear that most college students are not BUYING their alcohol from the college. What I am getting at here is that we are dealing with a problem that reaches all aspects of society (family [how is alcohol use modeled at home?], business [who makes, advertises and sells the product?], peers, schools, etc.) and to write about "college drinking" implies that the problem is ONLY with the colleges and therefore it should be solvable with changes AT colleges. Without changes from the other major contributors there is NOTHING a college administration is going to do which will stop college students from drinking themselves to death.



Ah -- but we also know that kids who go to college drink more than their comparable peers who don't go to college. That is, we believe that kids believe that there is something about college which means they should drink over and above simply being young and stupid.

I have alot of problems with various norms based approaches despite acknowledging the importance of social norms -- I just think that they are too clumsy and often backfire. Other programs that don't work well -- chastity only sex ed, DARE (drug program).

Approaches that work better -- painting a habit as lame. This was done with smoking through a number of ad campaigns that had some solid support behind them. The same could be done with binge drinking -- they're a small minority who believe that they're cool but ... there isn't much cool about puking the the garbage every night ...


FYI--DJ is a college professor AND and EMT--he's in the blogroll as College Professor by Day. I believe Ennis is also a college professor.

Ennis, where's the data that college kids drink more? It is citation junction around here.

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