What Will She Do/What Will He Doby Robert Becker, Nadia Shamsuddin, and William Bacon
This month's learning activity is related to changing social norms. It includes the following sections:
- An Overview of the activity, including:
- An outline of the Procedure, and
- The following handouts:
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OverviewIn this lesson, participants will learn how mistaken beliefs about their peers affect their own decision-making. They will complete an activity called "What Will She/He Do?" that will illustrate how knowing the truth about what is going on around them can help them make good decisions.
ObjectivesAt the end of this lesson, participants will be able to:
- Describe how mistakes about that they think is going on around them can affect their decision-making;
- Identify the importance of sticking to their own beliefs about making good decisions for themselves; and
- Recognize that many of their peers share the same beliefs about making good decisions.
Key Messages for Youth
- It may seem that many young people are making bad choices, but the truth is many of you share the same views about making good or the right decisions.
- When we make mistakes about what is going on around us, it may put pressure on us to do things we do not want to — it may lead to making bad decisions for ourselves.
- The more we realize that most of us share the same views about making good decisions, the more likely it is we will do what we really want and what is best for us.
- We will be spending time in this program talking about the reality of what is going on around you — the more you know the truth about what is going on, the better decisions you can make about dating, relationships, and sex.
- "Myths and Reality" handouts (double-sided)
- "Pressure to Have Sex: What Will She Do?" handout (double-sided), and
- "Sexual Harassment: What Will He Do?" handout (double-sided)
- Double-side and make enough copies of the "Myths and Reality" handout for everyone in the group.
- Double-side and make enough copies of the "Pressure to Have Sex: What Will She Do?" handout for everyone in the group.
- Double-side and make enough copies of the "Sexual Harassment: What Will He Do?" handout for everyone in the group.
- Prepare a newsprint with the heading "Why Young People May Choose to Smoke.
I. Introduction (10 minutes)
- Introduce lesson.
- Explain to participants that today's lesson "Changing Social Norms" will explore the difference between what they think their friends are doing and what their friends are really doing. Participants will learn how these differences may affect their decision-making.
- Brainstorm responses for why people choose to smoke.
- Explain to participants that they will be talking about decisions they make every day. Tell participants that one decision they face is whether or not to smoke cigarettes.
- Acknowledge that we know that smoking cigarettes is bad. Ask participants, "If young people know that smoking is bad for them, why do you think many still choose to do it?"
- Write the responses on a sheet of newsprint under the heading "Why Young People May Choose to Smoke." Circle the responses that represent pressure to smoke (e.g., "to look cool," "to fit in," etc.)
- Highlight myths related to smoking.
- Acknowledge that the pressure to smoke is real, but our beliefs about this pressure are often based on myths.
- Ask participants, "What is a myth?" Define myth as a belief about things that people think are true, but in reality, are false.
- Ask participants to point out the myths listed on the newsprint for reasons why young people smoke. (Myths might include: "Makes you look cool," "Everyone is doing it," "It's not really bad for you.")
- Clarify and define myths.
- Ask participants if these myths about smoking are true. If a participant tries to defend a myth, validate that sometimes people do mistakenly believe myths to be true. Ask participants if they have heard of other myths in their lives. Ask if these myths are true.
- Distribute "Myths and Reality" handout.
- Distribute the handout "Myths and Reality." Ask for a volunteer to read the paragraph about making mistakes.
- Link mistakes about what's happening to making poor decisions.
- Explain to participants that when people make mistakes about beliefs, or about things that are going on around them, they make poor decisions. When people know the truth about what's going on, they are likely to make good choices.
- Ask how myths may affect decision-making.
- Ask a participant to read the thoughts going on in the heads of the kids on the left hand side (myths). Emphasize that these thoughts are myths about smoking — they are not true.
- Ask participants, "If kids believe these myths, what might they choose to do? Why would these beliefs be harmful?"
- Ask how awareness of reality affects decision-making.
- Ask a participant to read the statements above the kids on the right hand side (the reality). Ask participants, "If these kids don't believe the myths about smoking and know that most of their peers do not smoke, how do you think it might affect their decision to smoke?"
- Review cartoon examples to show how misperceptions can affect behavior.
- Ask participants to turn the handout over and ask for a volunteer to read both the top and bottom statements about smoking.
- Emphasize to participants that when people believe that everyone else is doing something, they are more likely to do it. Show that in the top, if Jenny thinks or imagines that most of her friends are smoking, she is likely to try smoking herself.
- Emphasize that when people become aware that "not everyone is doing it," they are less likely to do bad things like smoking. Show in the bottom, that when Jenny becomes aware that most of her friends do not smoke, she sticks to her decision not to smoke as well.
- Explain to participants that believing in myths and not knowing what's really going on can lead to a special kind of peer pressure to do things we might not normally do.
II. What Will She/He Say? (25 minutes)
Participants can be divided up into four groups. Each group would be assigned one of the numbered cases within the scenarios.
Participants can work on the cases within the scenarios individually. Facilitator can process as a large group.
Given time constraints, there are several options to try to get through as many cases as time permits.
- Conduct as many of the cases possible in the Pressure to Have Sex and Sexual Harassment scenarios.
- Select either the Pressure to Have Sex or Sexual Harassment scenario.
- Conduct the first two cases in both the Pressure to Have Sex and Sexual Harassment scenarios.
- Introduce activity.
- Explain to participants that they have now seen how making mistakes about what's going on around them can affect their decisions. Tell them they are now going to participate in an activity called "What Will She/He Say" that will illustrate how knowing what's really going on with their friends and classmates can help them make good decisions.
- Hand out scenarios.
- Depending on the option you chose above, hand out the appropriate scenarios and divide the participants accordingly.
- Tell participants that they will be reading about young people their age who are struggling with the pressure to have sex/pressure to join in on sexual harassment comments.
- Give directions.
- Explain for each case, they will be asked to decide what they think the character in the story should do. Ask for a volunteer to read the first case out loud. Tell them to write an answer in the space provided.
- If participants are working in small groups, ask them to discuss what they think the character should do, trying to come to an agreement. Allow five minutes for them to complete one case. If participants are working individually, allow a minute to complete the case.
- Ask for a report back on what they think the character should do.
- Process cases.
- Use the Answer Key(s) to ask additional processing questions and to make supplemental processing points.
- At the conclusion of the case, move on to the next case and/or the next scenario, based on time constraints.
- Final processing questions.
- Ask participants:
- What have you learned about what happens when we make mistakes about what we think our friends and peers are doing, or how they feel?
- What can be dangerous or harmful about making decisions when we really do not know the truth about what is going on around us?
- Ask participants:
III. Closing (5 minutes)
- Review the key messages.
- Refer to key messages at the beginning of the lesson.
- Thank participants.
- Thank the participants for their cooperation and express enthusiasm for continuing to work with them in the program.
William F. Bacon, Ph.D., is Associate Vice President for Planning, Research and Evaluation at Planned Parenthood of New York City (PPNYC). He is responsible for designing and conducting evaluations of the teen pregnancy prevention programs in the Education and Training Department and also leads research and evaluation efforts across the agency. Robert M. Becker, M.S., is the Associate Vice President of Education and Training at PPNYC. He has been involved in the field of sexuality and sexual health for more than 10 years and has helped write curricula that address the sexual and reproductive health needs of adolescents. Nadia Shamsuddin, M.A., Director of School Initiatives for PPNYC, is responsible for the coordination of public school sexuality education programming in the South Bronx and Lower East Side of Manhattan. Prior to joining PPNYC, Ms. Shamsuddin developed and implemented multifaceted after-school programming for a number of public schools in the Bronx.