Professor of Sociology H. Wesley Perkins, a leading expert in social norms research, presented three talks for school districts and community prevention agencies, addressing community approaches to reduce risk behaviors among young people.
In March, prior to the “stay in place” directives, Perkins was invited by the “It Takes a Community” Coalition and the Iroquois Central School District in western New York to deliver an address, “Is Everybody Really Doing It? Using a Social Norms Approach to Successfully Reduce Youth Risk Behaviors,” for coalition members and school district administration and staff in Elma, N.Y.
Later that month, Perkins was invited to give the same address and an extended workshop on the topic for community, secondary school and higher education professionals concerned with health promotion and risk prevention in central New York. This presentation was sponsored by the Central NY Region Prevention Resource Center based in Syracuse.
In May, Perkins was an invited by the Child and Family Focus organization of Delaware County, Pennsylvania, to be a guest speaker for a webinar addressing social media’s impact on youth mental health and substance use. His live webinar talk via Zoom, titled “Misperceptions of Youth and the Social Norms Approach to Reduce Youth Risk Behaviors,” was attended by more than 125 professional staff working in children & youth services, guidance counseling, mental health counseling, student assistance programs, juvenile justice, and drug & alcohol prevention.
Perkins and Professor of Chemistry David Craig P’05 have developed an influential body of data and research around secondary school and college students’ perceptions and behaviors regarding alcohol and drug use. Over the past two decades, the social norms intervention model developed by the HWS Alcohol Education Project has been applied in a variety of settings and across various social circumstances, earning multiple awards from the U.S. Department of Education. Perkins and Craig also launched the intervention program among student-athletes at HWS, eventually expanding the project to other NCAA Division III programs, schools abroad and the U.S. Air Force.
A graduate of Purdue University, Perkins received his M.A., M. Div., M. Phil. and Ph.D. from Yale University. He is the author of dozens of journal articles and is editor of a book on the social norms approach to substance abuse prevention. He has been honored with national awards for his work in preventing alcohol and drug abuse at colleges and universities.