Norms Approach Beats Fear & Exaggeration for Motivating Behavior


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Larry Magid's presentation at the International Bullying Prevention Association 2011 meeting in New Orleans

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  • THERE NEVER HAS BEEN A STUDY ON HOW MUCH CHILDREN ARE SOLICITED BY “PREDATORS.” NOTE THE HEADLINE: “All Children Vulnerable to Online Predators”. IT’S A TRICK QUESTION BECAUSE THE SURVEY WASN’T ABOUT PREDATORS. It was about unwanted sexual solicitations from anybody – flirting is often an unwanted sexual solicitation, as the researchers defined the term. Here’s what the 2000 study this refers to – updated in 2006 with the figure 1 in 7, so the no. of solicitations had gone down – actually said....READ THIS:“Youth identify most sexual solicitors as being other adolescents (48% in 2000; 43% in 2006) or young adults 18-24 (20%; 30%), with few (4%; 9%) coming from older adults, and the remaining being of unknown age.” THE TOTALS: 68% teens & 18-24-year-olds in 2000; 73% in 2006.
  • From 1990 to 2005 – the period of time that the Web was born and grew most rapidly – there was a 51% decline in overall child sexual – the chart’s showing that: out of every 10,000 US minors, 23 were abused, with that no. going down to 11 in 2005.UPDATE: 58% decline thru 2008, latest figure available (reported by CCRC here “Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008” <>)NCANDS = National Data Archives on Child Abuse & Neglect
  • Norms Approach Beats Fear & Exaggeration for Motivating Behavior

    1. 1. Norms Approach Beats Fear & Exaggeration for Motivating Behavior Larry Magid (not pictured above) Co-director, Founder,
    2. 2. Everything I know about bullying prevention, I learned from a New Orleans street artistTaken in Jackson Square,New Orleans
    3. 3. After 9/11, flying was “dangerous” So people drove more and deaths per passenger mile went up
    4. 4. Some parents fear inoculationsWhich means fewer kids are protectedagainst preventable diseases
    5. 5. And sometimes fear can lead toquestionable invasive procedures
    6. 6. Some panicked over:• Y2K• Killer bees• Swine flu• Stranger danger• Stock market “crash”• Al Qaeda and nuclear weapons in Iraq• Unemployment• Not enough people to fill available jobs• Inflation• Deflation• Obama getting elected• McCain getting elected
    7. 7. And, of course
    8. 8. But fear can also be protective
    9. 9. Fear works only if it’s credible & actionable“According to EPPM*, how people respond to fear appeals depends ontheir assessment of the threat and their perceived efficacy. Whenassessing threat, the audience considers severity, or the seriousness ofit, as well as their susceptibility, or the likelihood that it will happen tothem.”*Extended Parallel Process ModelBased on research from Kim White @ Michigan State
    10. 10. Boomerang effectIf the perception of threat exceeds perception ofefficacy…• They will avoid the message• Deny they are at risk• Mock the message or become angry at the source or issue (and ignore it).• They may even increase their unhealthy behaviors (boomerang effect).
    11. 11. Fear can paralyzeAnd lead to irrational decisions
    12. 12. Predator Panic of 2004-2006
    13. 13. The rise of the web has not resulted in increased victimization of children 51% Decline (during the period of the Web’s existence) Blue line represents 58% decline in child sex abuse from 1992 to 2008Source: Updated Trends in Child Maltreatment, 2008: Finkelhor, Jones and Shattuck: Crimes AgainstChildren Research Center
    14. 14. Moving right alongThe Internet Safety Technical Task Force found that:“Bullying and harassment, most often by peers, are themost salient threats that minors face, both online andoffline.”Which naturally leads to ….
    15. 15. Cyberbullying Panic!
    16. 16. It’s a problem, not an epidemic Data is not consistent but the consensus is that about 20% of kids experienced cyberbullyingChart: Cox Communications Teen Online & Wireless Safety Survey
    17. 17. Most children are neither victims nor monsters • Not every interaction that makes kids uncomfortable is bullying • While some are very vulnerable, most children are reasonably resilient. • Across Europe, 6% of 9 to 16-year- old internet users have been bullied online. 3% confess to having bullied others. * • Far more have been bullied offline, with 19 per cent saying they have been bullied at all – and 12 per cent have bullied someone else** EU Kids Online
    18. 18. And bullying may be going down, not up “The percentage of youth (2-17) reporting physical bullying in the past year went down from 22 percent to 15 percent between 2003 and 2008.” Source: Trends in Childhood Violence and Abuse Exposure .. Finkelhor, et al)
    19. 19. Danger of exaggeration• Can destroy credibility• Can cause “boomerang effect”• Can cause people to believe that behaviors are “normal”
    20. 20. Being honest reduces risk “Youth are less likely to get involved in bullying and less likely to remain as bystanders ignoring bullying when they accurately perceive peer norms.”“Honest Abe”didn’t say this,but he mighthave Source: Using Social Norms to Prevent Bullying in Middle Schools. Craig & Perkins, August 2011
    21. 21. Social Norms • People emulate how they think their peers behave • If people think their friends don’t smoke, they’re less likely to smoke • Same is true with over-eating, excessive alcohol use and other negative behaviors, including bullying**Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the SocialNorms Model to Adolescent Violence: Craig, Perkins 2008
    22. 22. Perception mattersSource: Perkins, H. Wesley, David W. Craig, and Jessica M. Perkins. "Using Social Norms to Reduce Bullying: AResearch Intervention in Five Middle Schools." Group Processes and Intergroup Relations, 2011.
    23. 23. Bullying behavior in school – last 30 days Actual behaviors lower than perceived behaviorsSource: Using Social Norms to PreventBullying in Middle Schools. Craig & Perkins,August 2011
    24. 24. Alternative to fear messaging“Social-norms marketing campaigns have emergedas an alternative to more traditional approaches(e.g., information campaigns, moral exhortation,fear inducing messages) designed to reduceundesirable conduct.”Donaldson, Graham, Piccinin, & Hansen, 1995
    25. 25. Emphasize the positive• People, especially youth, can benefit from positive images and role models• Creating a culture of respect actually can lead to respect• Respectful behavior truly is normal. Most kids do not bully
    26. 26. Example of positive normingSource: Assessing Bullying in New Jersey Secondary Schools: Applying the Social NormsModel to Adolescent Violence: Craig, Perkins 2008
    27. 27. Thanks View this presentation: Larry MagidCo-director, Founder,