Perception and reality are often miles apart

Published 10:23 am Monday, February 27, 2017

Bill Spitzer

P & I Coordinator Parenting Resource Center

The thought of an early spring after a full week of warm days and cool nights were shattered on Friday.  We all knew it was too early for spring but we were all full of hope.  I joined the many people walking or riding around Mill pond on Wednesday.  On Friday, the data about the winter storm was spot on but I’ll bet some were thinking in the back of their minds, are we really going to get this massive snow fall? Since these last few days were amazing, it was hard to believe.

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Data is something we rely on every day and the accuracy of that data is extremely important.  Equally important is having access to the data so we can clear up many misconceptions.  Over the past month, students have been taking a survey in an effort to collect information about behaviors and attitudes regarding the use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  The survey went one step further asking them about the perceptions of other students’ use of these substances.

This data will be very important in establishing what the norms are for Austin students.  Identifying the positive norms will be the main goal of this survey which will help us grow the goodness that we know already exists in our community.  The other objective of the survey is to look at those misperceptions that may exist around underage drinking.  Narrowing that gap between perception and reality has been proven to reduce substance abuse.  Sometimes what we believe and what is reality can be totally different.

A comment made by a meteorologist last week was his reality or was it just a misperception.  When you hear things like, “For the most part, winter is pretty much done,” and you are shoveling that mound of snow, perception and reality seem miles apart!
Bill Spitzer is the Planning and Implementation (P & I) Coordinator working closely with APAC (Austin Positive Action Coalition).  APAC and Bill will be working with our schools and community as part of a 5-year grant focusing on Positive Community Norms.  Feel free to contact him at the Austin High School 507.460.1800 ext. 0361 or via e-mail  This grant is made possible by the Minnesota Department of Human Services, ADAD and hosted locally by the PRC.  To learn more about the Parenting Resource, visit their website at