Boys' Latin School's
Peer Education Program
The Peer Education Program is a health education
program that attempts to effect changes in students’ behaviors
by addressing the attitudes that are often the antecedents of risky
decisions. Attitudes such as “This is what all high school
students do” or “It was an accident; there was nothing
we could do to prevent it” can foster risky decisions. Too
often adolescents fail to consider the options available to them
or take responsibility for the consequences of their decisions because
of these mistaken beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes. The lack
of educated discussion among teens adds to the problem.
The Peer Education Program attempts to counter these
forces. The intent of the Program is not to prescribe specific behaviors,
but rather to encourage critical thinking and discussion among our
students concerning the issues that they face, the processes by
which they make their decisions, the forces (attitudes, beliefs,
etc.) that influence their decisions, and the options that they
The Program's faculty team trains Upper School students
to present lessons to 6th and 9th graders that challenge the attitudes
that may result in risky decisions/behaviors and promote a consideration
of the potential consequences and alternatives. In addition, the
presence of peers as teachers/facilitators provides a model of how
to have constructive and thoughtful discussions on a variety of
topics. The goals and objectives of each individual lesson support
in some way what the faculty team holds as principles of a healthy
lifestyle. These principles were adapted from Loyola
Blakefield's program and include the following:
- 1. Life involves risks.
Some are healthy, while others are unhealthy. The issue is whether
the potential gain is worth the risk.
2. Sound mental health involves a number of factors. Two factors
are the ability to be honest with oneself and the ability to create
options and alternatives.
3. Learning ways to deal with stress is an important part of life.
4. Feelings are neither good nor bad. How we act on our feelings
may be positive or negative.
5. Accidents are avoidable. This does not mean that an individual
has control over all of the factors that may be involved in an
accident, yet it recognizes that the individual does play some
6. Experience may be the best teacher, but it is not the only
teacher. Some lessons are too risky to be learned through experience.
7. Alcoholism or other drug addiction is a disease. It is not
caused by a character flaw, lack of willpower, or mental illness.
8. There is a risk of negative consequences associated with any
type of substance use—experimental use, social use, abuse,
9. No man is an island. The statements and decisions we make affect
10. Differences do
not equal deficiencies. Every person
regardless of race, age, gender, and sexual orientation should
be treated with respect.
The Peer Education Program was established at Boys'
Latin School during the 1995-1996 school year. The program is a
health education program developed at the Harvard University School
of Public Health under the direction of Dr. Charles Deutsch. The
goal of the program is to educate students about a range of topics
aimed at physical and emotional well-being. Lessons address such
topics as alcohol and other drug use, respecting differences, conflict
resolution, fitting in, and asking for help. Upper School students
present the lessons to 6th and 9th graders. The faculty team believes
that the program plays a significant role in encouraging physical
and emotional health in our students.
The peer educators are selected by the faculty members
of the program to create a team with a range of individual talents,
interests, and abilities. The faculty looks over the entire student
body (grades 10-12) for students who communicate in an honest, straightforward,
and frank manner. It is not the team’s intent to assemble
a team of straight-A students. Rather, the aim is to select students
who represent all of the different subgroups in the school. The
team attempts to reach all the personalities and groups in the middle
school. Peer educators do not sign a contract pledging that they
will not use. Rather, they are asked to appreciate the purpose of
the program and not to act in a way that would jeopardize the program’s
integrity. This issue becomes grist for the mill during the training
The role of the faculty team is to train and support
the peer educators. The peer educators participate in three half-day
training sessions in addition to a two-night retreat. The half-day
training dates are scheduled during the first semester. The overnight
retreat is scheduled two nights usually during the first weekend
in February. One focus of the training sessions is to help the students
develop an appreciation for their task. Thus, many training activities
are aimed at having the peer educators examine themselves. In addition,
the students become familiar with the goals of the program, the
curriculum, and methods of instruction. They practice the lessons
with the opportunity for feedback. Throughout the year, the teams
meet with their assigned faculty member to fine-tune their skills.
The peer educators teach 10-12 lessons to 6th graders and 2 lessons
to 9th graders. The 9th grade lessons are presented during a special
assembly time during the Second Semester. The 6th grade lessons
are taught over the course of the second semester with one team
presenting a different lesson each week. These begin soon after
the peer educators return from the retreat.