New Jersey Department of Education

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Keeping Our Students Safe, Healthy & In School

Social Norms Project

From 2005-2010, the NJDOE collaborated with the Center for Addiction Studies and Awareness at Rowan University to implement the New Jersey Social Norms Project that used established social psychological principles concerning the influence of group norms on individual behavior to achieve the following purposes:

  • Reduce harassment, intimidation and bullying behavior among students in participating New Jersey middle schools; and
  • Reduce the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs among students in participating New Jersey high schools.

Under the New Jersey Social Norms Project, student surveys were administered to determine actual norms regarding alcohol, tobacco, and other drug use and bullying, harassment, and intimidation behavior in participating schools, as appropriate. The data collected from the student surveys were used to determine the student norms of each school related to bullying or substance use, depending on grade levels. The confidential survey data were employed to create messages for promoting the positive norms of the school and implementing marketing campaigns to inform students, school staff, parents and other community members of these norms. The student survey was administered the following school year to determine the effects of the social norms campaign on changing the behaviors of students and for improving the program.  

Implementing a social norms project could help districts fulfill their obligations for comprehensive alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse programs, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:40A-10 and N.J.A.C. 6A:16-3, and could be a strategy for preventing harassment, intimidation and bullying, pursuant to N.J.S.A. 18A:37-17.

Social Norms Project Tool Kit

At the conclusion of the project in January 2011, a Social Norms Project Tool Kit was disseminated to each school district, charter school and vocational school that served fifth through twelfth grade students. Copies of the Tool Kit also were disseminated to the county offices of education, Learning Resource Centers, the State Library, public institutions of higher education, the New Jersey Department of Human Services, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services' county prevention resource centers, and the Governor's Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse' County Alliance Coordinators. All of the Tool Kit materials, in addition to a few extra PowerPoint presentations, are available below. The Tool Kit materials provide all of the resources necessary for implementing a social norms project. Text in bold and/or italics indicates folders. The formats for the files provided below are indicated by the associated abbreviation for Microsoft Word (W), PowerPoint (PP), Excel (E) and Publisher (P).

1. Social Norms Project Manual

2. PowerPoint Presentations
2a. PowerPoints from Social Norms Project Manual

2b. PowerPoints - Supplemental

3. School Planning
3a. School Planning Team

3b. School Information Form (W)
3c. Marketing Outline (W)

4. Student Surveys
4a. Parent Consent Forms

4b. Surveys – Instructions and Procedures

4c. Surveys – Electronic Format

4d. Surveys – Paper Format

5. Social Norms Posters
5a. High School Posters

5b. Middle School Posters

6. Press Releases

7. Social Norms Project Report

Other Social Norms Resources

The following resources provide additional information in support of the implementation of a social norms approach to the prevention of problem behavior: