Community High School District 94

326 Joliet Street, West Chicago IL 60185

Contact:  Mary Randle's email, 630/876-6556
Community Relations Coordinator


Feb 09, 2005

Community High School and Breaking Free Partner to Raise Awareness

WEST CHICAGO, IL—the adolescent excuse of “but everybody does it” may no longer hold credibility in West Chicago when it comes to underage drinking and tobacco usage.

Over the course of the last year and a half, Community High School in West Chicago has partnered with Breaking Free, a substance abuse prevention and counseling agency, to create what is known as a “social norms marketing” campaign for the students at CHS. Social norms marketing is a concept that emphasizes the positive aspects of teen behavior and reinforces to the students that the majority of their peers do not smoke cigarettes. It also helps to correct a misperception that teens tend to have, the misguided notion that “everyone is smoking.”

To determine just how great the misperception was, all students at Community High School were surveyed about their alcohol and tobacco habits. The University of Illinois analyzed the survey results and found that the majority, 75%, of CHS students have never smoked a cigarette. The survey also showed that 80% of students had not smoked in the last 30 days. The survey results were consistent with county, state, and national averages.

“When the students first see the figures, their first reaction is usually disbelief, or that all the kids lied on the survey,” said Kate Hodgson, Prevention Specialist for Breaking Free. “Then when we explain how false surveys are found and thrown out, they begin to see their peers and their community in a whole new light.”

Campaign posters and materials for students will be in both English and Spanish. This is the first time that a bi-lingual Social Norms campaign has been attempted in the United States.