The Truth Is (TTI)

The Truth Iswant adults to talk to them about the dangers of using alcohol.

Learn how:

What most think (and do) may surprise you!!

Most youth do not engage in substance abuse, but most may think their peers do. Similarly, parents may think most teens drink alcohol, but they may not think it is an issue they need to address with their own child.

The Truth Is social norms marketing strategy corrects misperceptions like these and, in the process, changes attitudes and behaviors for the better.

Youth First, Warrick County Cares and the Warrick County School Corporation work together to implement and promote The Truth Is.

The Truth Is is funded by a Federal Drug Free Communities grant.

Goals of The Truth Is...

Correct student misperceptions regarding their peers' alcohol use.

Increase the number of youth that believe alcohol is harmful to their health.

Reduce high risk drinking by our communities' youth.

Correct community and adult misperceptions about teen alcohol use.

How it works...

The The Truth Is campaign is a research-based strategy which recognizes that many young people want to conform to peer norms or feel the social pressure to do so. A growing number of studies document that both high school and college students' personal drinking behavior is strongly influenced by their incorrect perception of peer drinking norms (Berkowitz, 2003). Students typically think that the norms for both the frequency and the quantity of drinking among their peers are higher than they actually are. In addition students generally believed that their peers are more permissive in their personal attitudes about substance use than is in fact the case (Perkin and Berkowitz, 1986).

The Social Norms approach works to correct negative misperceptions by collecting actual data that measures beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors. The data is then incorporated into a marketing strategy using media materials and messages to correct commonly-held beliefs like "everybody does it." By continuing to market the positive messages and true norms, the misperception that "everybody does it" is slowly altered until the group realizes "not everyone does it."

The Results...

Research shows repeated exposure to a variety of positive, data-based messages can change the misperceptions that help sustain problem behaviors. Over time, the negative behaviors of a group begin to shift toward the more accurately perceived safer and healthier norms.

Other popular media-based prevention strategies like scare tactics, awareness weeks, and providing factual/educational information have not been shown to reduce risky behaviors associated with substance abuse. However, research shows Social Norms Marketing, if done correctly, will work.

2016 Warrick County Teen Survey results show:
The Truth Is 78% of teens think parents should set clear rules and expectations about avoiding alcohol. (2014 - 76%)
The Truth Is 8 out of 10 (80%) teens never or rarely** drink alcohol. (2014 - 78%)
The Truth Is 7 out of 10 (72%) teens prefer to NOT drink alcohol when hanging out with friends.
(2014 - 70%)
The Truth Is 72% of teens think getting drunk is NEVER a good thing for anyone my age to do.
(2014 - 70%)
The Truth Is (85%) of teens never or rarely** use marijuana.

**Rarely = 2 or fewer drinks/uses in a year

Youth First's Role...

Youth First collaborates with area high schools and middle schools and the community to collect data, develop messages, implement the strategy, and design posters. See below.


What is The Truth Is campaign?

An evidence based strategy, The Truth Is works to correct misperceptions, reduce underage drinking, reinforce positive parenting habits and to support the majority of students who are making healthy choices.

How does it work?

The Truth Is uses positive community norms and the "Science of the Positive" to encourage people to continue or adopt healthy social norms. Research shows promoting positive social norms and correcting misperceptions can increase healthy behaviors. It is the opposite of the typical but unproven prevention strategies which seem more like "Health Terrorism" - scare tactics, negative images, and fear-based activities. In fact, these approaches can actually increase risky behaviors by inadvertently suggesting that unhealthy choices are the norm.

What are social norms?

Social norms are behaviors, thoughts, or feelings shared by most people in a given group (over 50%). The Truth Is campaign measures social norms and misperceptions of norms through surveys. Over 2200 Warrick County School Corporation high school students responded to the Youth First The Truth Is survey in the spring of 2013.

Why do misperceptions matter?

It is the difference between what we THINK our friends do and what our friends REALLY do. Overestimating or underestimating what our peers do can have negative consequences. For instance, teens who believe that "everybody does it" or "most do it" may feel greater pressure to drink alcohol. Parents who believe "everybody does it but not my child" may be less likely to have crucial conversations with their kids about the dangers of alcohol.

What is the solution?

Hear the conversation (what teens and their parents say), and then steer the conversation to correct any misperceptions and promote the positive norms. In other words, find the untold goodness and continuously spread it through mass media marketing efforts, school-based activities, or even dinner table conversations.

Thanks to The Truth Is, teens, parents, teachers, and other adults are empowered to talk the talk and walk the walk in an effort to reduce alcohol abuse.

How Can I Learn More?

Want to learn more about ourThe Truth Is initiative? Contact us, we would love to hear from you!