Students Fight Peer Pressure

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

"That's sick, that's fly, that's nasty," said Western High School student Matt Hotchkiss listing off trendy synonyms for 'cool.'

There is a hundred ways to say it, but what is cool these days? It's a word that can drive high school teen behavior.

"Generally, if their friends are doing it so are they," said Mercedes Beiswanger, a Jackson High School junior.

Or they do what they think their friends are doing.

"...Smoke pot, drink, get drunk, have sex," said Hotchkiss of what his peers assume friends are doing.

But in reality, surveys show most students in Jackson County don't do these things, so the Jackson County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition partnered with high schools to start a new campaign called "Most Teens Don't."

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"Number one, we wanted teen involvement. The adults might not have the instant pulse in what's going on," said Kelsey Haynes of the Jackson County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition.

Kicking off the second year of the campaign, students created new marketing ideas from radio and social networking ads to trendy sunglasses and bracelets.

"Everyone wants one because it's new, it's fun, it's different. Everyone says, 'oh I want those glasses. Oh, I want that bracelet," said Clarissa Denig, a freshmen at Da Vinci High School.

"Those are things everybody has that are cool right now. Once they read the saying, we get a chance to explain everything to them," said Hotchkiss.

"We have athletes, drama kids, band kids. Just everyone to get the message out to their own little groups," said Michael Fink, a senior at Jackson High School.

One friend at a time, members of "Most Teens Don't" are trying to first change the perception of their peers that ultimately affects their behavior.

The "Most Teens Don't" campaign is funded by federal and local grants and donations. It is made up of nearly 50 student ambassadors from a majority of the high schools in Jackson County.

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