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+ A tough crowd: How to win over teenagers when talking about controversial topics Elise Bennett, MS, PLMFT Adolescent, Individual and Family Therapist.

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Presentation on theme: "+ A tough crowd: How to win over teenagers when talking about controversial topics Elise Bennett, MS, PLMFT Adolescent, Individual and Family Therapist."— Presentation transcript:

1 + A tough crowd: How to win over teenagers when talking about controversial topics Elise Bennett, MS, PLMFT Adolescent, Individual and Family Therapist

2 + When asked why they fear this audience, 1,000 adults replied with answers such as: “They won’t care about what I have to say,” “They won’t listen to me,” “I’m afraid of them.” ATOD topics are especially tricky to migrate with teens but underage drinking is not inevitable. We use our tone, our presentation style, and our emotional connection to our students to ensure that they believe this. Teens already believe they are experts in ATOD topics. We have to be careful not to take for granted that they have been talking about drugs, and have been are exposed to drug related propaganda and gossip for many years before they end up in our classroom.

3 + Challenge Them Right Off The Bat Your students didn’t decide to participate in this lecture on their own. This means that they have less of an investment in participation- which is essential to keeping them engaged. Turn this assumption on its head. to raise their hands or stand up. Do SOMETHING to make sure that they realize that this is not just curriculum fulfillment, but is information that impacts every single student and their futures.

4 + Why “scared straight” does not scare anyone straight “Controlled studies show that “Scared Straight” interventions are ineffective, and even potentially harmful, for adolescents.” — Lilienfeld et al, 2010, p.225 Scared Straight” emphasizes severity of punishment, but neglects two other key components of deterrence theory — certainty and swiftness Youth already know that they aren’t going to die, fail all of their classes or spend their life in jail so we lose credibility with these suggestions Use rates actually went down when television stations stopped airing these “scary” prevention ads Exception to this rule: “Truth” Tobacco Campaign because it shows real people with believable consequences (ie: trach tubes, cancer)

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6 + Understanding How the Brain Works When we talk about topics that are difficult or triggering (either because we have used in the past, been affected by someone who has used, experienced peer pressure), our brain goes in to FIGHT OR FLIGHT The LEFT side of the brain has an emphasis in logic and reasoning. The RIGHT side of the brain has an emphasis in emotions and creativity. It is important that we keep both sides engaged if we are going to be impacted by a message.

7 + The brain filters 99% of the information coming from the senses. Two factors strongly influence whether the brain pays attention to a piece of information: 1. If the information has meaning. 2. If the information causes an emotional response.

8 + Remember what is important to a teenager The Prefrontal Cortex makes the most changes during the teen years in: ATTENTION, MOTIVATION, AND RISK-TAKING Studies have shown that teens know when they are engaging in risky behavior (like unprotected sex, drinking, or drugs). However, they are more likely to think that the benefits of those behaviors outweigh the potential harm. Reward for Using (ie: popularity) Consequences (ie: threat to grades, physical symptoms)

9 + Inside the teen brain: “I’M INVINCIBLE” No teen believes they are going to get in a car accident, get pregnant, or overdose. The teen brain is specifically “wired” to help navigate adolescence and to take some of the risks necessary to achieve independence from their parents. This may help explain why teens often seek out new and thrilling—sometimes dangerous—situations, including drinking alcohol. It also offers a possible reason for why teens act so impulsively, often not recognizing that their actions can lead to serious problems. Legality, possible future physical ailments, and even potential consequences to their friendships matter less than doing things that could end up humiliating them in front of their peers (impaired judgment)

10 + The data paints a different picture than what they perceive to be true When you share data with students, they often have a hard time finding credibility in the numbers because of what they hear in the hallways or see on social media. It is important to address these discrepancies in real vs perceived behaviors. “Who’s louder in the hallway on Monday morning?”

11 + But what if they have a good point? Debunk myths. Teens often argue that the “buzzed” feeling that alcohol brings helps them deal with stress and makes them feel better. While this may be true, it is a depressant that also can cause sadness and anger. Marijuana organizations like NORML have done a great job of creating websites and propaganda that give youth sound bites for arguing a pro- use stance. Most of the tricks of logic and debate refute questions and attacks, but fail to establish any true justification for a given idea. Focus on discussing why your points are right (since they are based in fact) and rather than why their points are wrong (which you may not be able to prove without some research). “Hmmm, that is an interesting point. Let’s chat more about that at the end of class” “I encourage all of you to continue to educate yourself on these topics, just make sure you are using reliable sources that are not paid for with pro-marijuana dollars”

12 + “Yeah, but did YOU drink alcohol in high school?” Regardless of your choices about alcohol consumption in high school, your job is to teach them about the impact of THEIR OWN choices. This question is often a way for them to normalize or create acceptability around their behavior. “I don’t know that it’s helpful either way for me to share that. The facts about alcohol use and the teenage brain remain the same.”

13 + My suggestion is to view this more as “healthy choice promotion” rather than “risky choice prevention” Positive thinking = positive behaviors Current research surrounding PR and Marketing says consumers are more receptive to messaging that has a positive slant. Peer pressure, temptation and curiosity will be themes throughout their lives so the skills we are teaching them now are most useful when they have the ability to be applied to lots of topics. 10% 80%10%

14 + Mental health promotion emphasizes two key concepts: POWER AND RESILIENCE. POWER: a person’s, group’s or community’s sense of control over life and the ability to be resilient (Joubert & Raeburn, 1998) RESILIENCE: the ability to manage or cope with significant adversity or stress in ways that are not only effective, but may result in an increased ability to respond to future adversity (Health Canada, 2000, p.8)

15 + Possibilities of Activities to Incorporate Line Continuum Fist to Five Use pictures, videos and draw on the board Assign mini topics to small groups and have them be responsible for teaching their peers that section of the lesson Give multiple choice questions to transition topics Top card Control Wheel ATOD Tic-Tac-Toe ATOD Scavenger Hunt Analyze how alcohol is portrayed in the media and on television with characters their age

16 + Additional Instructions for the Activities listed in this Presentation Line Continuum: Create an imaginary line across the length of the room. At one end, place a sign that reads “strongly agree.” At the other end of the line place a sign that reads “strongly disagree.” Have the students use their bodies to place themselves along the line based on their stance to statements that you read aloud. Ask a few students from each section to share why they chose to stand where they did. (Example statements: Alcohol should be considered a drug. Drinking helps people deal with their problems. People are more accepted if they drink or smoke pot. An alcoholic with kidney failure should not be able to receive a transplant. Fist to Five: Gauge the class’ answers or understanding on a topic by having them all raise their arm in the air with anywhere between 0 (fist) to five fingers displayed. (Example: “Close your eyes and show me on a scale between fist and five how much knowledge you have about marijuana before today’s conversation.”

17 + Additional Instructions for the Activities listed in this Presentation Top Card: Type current data and compelling facts on to small cards. Break the room in to 4-6 groups depending on size of the class. Give each group five cards. Each group reads their set of cards to themselves and chooses the three that their peers most need to know. Have them trade their two “discard” cards with another group. This time have them choose the two cards (the same or new) that their peers most need to know. Have them trade their three “discard” cards with a different group. Finally, have them read read over their new cards and choose their single most important card for their peers to know. By this time, all of the cards should have made it around to all of the groups to read. Take turns having each group stand and read their “most important fact” and share why this fact is so important.

18 + Additional Instructions for the Activities listed in this Presentation Suggested questions for incorporating in to your slides: How would you classify each of the following drugs: (choices: Hallucinogen, Depressant, Stimulant, Narcotic) A. Marijuana B. Alcohol C. Oxycodone (Pain Killer) D. Heroin E. Ecstasy / MDMA Our body loses how many days of athletic training in one night of binge drinking? A. 0C. 5 B. 1D. 14 Teens who smoke marijuana every week have _____ the risk of depression than a teen who does not. Answer: DOUBLE

19 + Questions Elise Bennett


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