The Fairfield Cares Task Force recently launched a "Social Norms" campaign at Fairfield Warde High School to deter students from drinking alcohol.

The initiative, carried out in partnership with Fairfield Public Schools and Westport-based Positive Directions, debuted March 21 with a display of posters at the school showing teens engaged in fun activities with friends. The posters showed a headline, "Truth is, most teens in Fairfield choose not to drink ... you're not the only one," according to a news release from Positive Directions.

The campaign is an established prevention strategy based on the principle that people's behavior is strongly influenced by their perceptions of what is "normal" or "typical" in their environment or among their friends. With regard to underage drinking, misperceptions of what is considered "normal" -- in this case widespread drinking -- reinforces negative behavior, while accurate perceptions increase healthy behavior, the release states.

The campaign is based on a student survey conducted this year in Fairfield by Bridgeport's Regional Youth Adult Social Action Partnership, which revealed that teens are using alcohol less, contradicting teens' perceptions. Social norming, a departure from traditional "scare tactic" prevention strategies, strives to correct this misperception by promoting healthy behaviors known to be occurring, according to the release.

The campaign will be rolled out at Fairfield Ludlowe High School in early April.

The task force is a member of the Fairfield County Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse.

Call Positive Directions at 203-227-7644, ext 132.