Why do girls need Friendly PEERsuasion?
Girls Inc. Friendly PEERsuasion® is a program, specially tailored for the needs of girls 11-14 years old, that allows girls to learn about the causes, appearance and effects of peer influence. These three areas of knowledge are the foundation for decision making and resistance skills. By approaching drug abuse prevention as a peer issue, this program allows girls real world experience in using positive, healthy behavior to influence peers. In addition to learning communication skills and stress indicators, this program teaches girls to combat stress in healthy ways.
Girls are able to model behavior with this two-part program:
- Part I: Girls are given foundation skills (communication, decision- making, and assertiveness) so that they can practice saying no to negative, dangerous behaviors/activities. Girls play games, have group discussions, role play, learn about the effects of drug use/abuse on the body and mind, and recognize indicators of peer pressure and better ways to manage stress.
- Part II: Girls who have completed Part I work together to create prevention activities for girls 6 – 10 years old.
These activities allow girls to act as role models and leaders and reinforce their commitment to avoid illegal substances, tobacco, and alcohol.
Peer pressure is a staple of youth. The pressures felt by girls are often perceived as being greater those felt by boys. Girls have a plethora of reasons for turning to drugs and alcohol, like pressure to stay slim, be popular, appear mature, or escape overwhelming problems. Standard prevention programs are not tailored to the specific needs of girls, rendering them ineffective.
- Among young women who currently smoke, 92.3% believe persons can get addicted to cigarettes, and yet 23.8% think it is safe to smoke one to two years and then quit.
- Of high-school-aged young women who currently smoke, 20% think smokers have more friends; 12.4% think smokers look cool.
- More adolescent girls than boys reported feeling a lot of stress and more say they use cigarettes (66% versus 49%) and alcohol (38% versus 27%) to deal with stress.
- 41% of girls in the 9th grade use alcohol.
- By the time girls reach their senior year in high school, 34% report periodic heavy drinking.
- In the United States, an estimated 4.6 million women abuse or are dependent on alcohol.
After participating in Friendly PEERsuasion training,
- Only 22% of girls ages 11 to 12 reported smoking, drinking, or using other drugs, compared with 34% of girls who did not participate.
- One month after completion of the program, the same group of participants showed no increase in substance use, while those who did not participate increased substance use by 6 percentage points, from 34% to 40%.
- Only 4% of participants ages 11 and 12 reported staying in situations where peers were smoking, drinking, or using other drugs; 14% of girls who did not participate reported staying in situations where peers engaged in such behavior.
- Girls were more likely to avoid situations where peers were smoking, drinking, or using drugs.
Friendly PEERsuasion was named an Effective Program by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention in their 2001 Exemplary Program Awards.