Friendly PEERsuasion

She embraced her values… and her future.

Girls develop skills to resist pressure to use harmful substances, such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and household chemicals. After learning healthy ways to manage stress and to deflect peer, media, and other pressures that contribute to substance use, girls become peer educators (PEERsuaders) for younger girls.

Why is a substance use prevention program for girls important?

Girls deserve healthy environments in which to flourish, but too often face pressures that thwart their ability to make smart choices concerning the use of legal and illicit substances. Girls often are induced to use alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs to become or stay slim, manage stress, appear mature, be popular with peers, or escape overwhelming problems. Because many of these pressures are more prevalent for girls than boys, standard prevention programs may not be effective for girls.

Girls use substances differently and for different reasons than boys. Girls are more likely than boys to be introduced to substance use by a person they want to please or who wants them to engage in sexual behavior when under the influence of a substance. The desire to be accepted by peers can further encourage girls to use substances. Moreover, girls are more likely than boys to perceive themselves as being overweight and also have greater social pressures than boys do to be thin. Thus, girls are more likely to take diet pills, powder, or liquids.

About the Program

Girls Inc. Friendly PEERsuasion develops the skills of girls ages 11 to 14 to resist pressure to use harmful substances, such as drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and household chemicals. Friendly PEERsuasion targets the years during which girls begin to more fully experience and respond to influence and pressure from their peers to participate in risky behaviors. During the program, girls build their knowledge and skills for resisting negative peer pressure and unhealthy ways to respond to stress. Girls learn to identify healthy alternatives to risky behavior and invite peers to join them in acting on their smarter choices. Additionally, participants learn about various legal and illicit substances and understand responsible use of readily available prescription and over-the-counter medications and supplements, and analyze media messages that glamorize substance use.

Participants also build leadership skills that help them plan and implement substance use prevention activities with groups of younger children ages 6 to 10 (referred to as PEERsuade-Me’s), thereby reinforcing their own commitment to avoiding substance use. Friendly PEERsuasion is available in Spanish (Persuasión Positiva).