From: THRIVE: Tool for Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments
Pittsburg, California is a city within Contra Costa County that has a large Mexican American population. Within this community, mothers were not putting their children in car seats while driving at the same rate as in the county overall. In response to this, the county targeted the cost associated with car seats as the problem. A policy was passed which provided money to make car seats available to low-income families. Under this policy, when people were stopped and ticketed for not placing their child in a car seat, a portion of the money raised went into a fund that purchased car seats for low-income families. However, this alone did not ensure that car seats were being used regularly within the Latino community of Pittsburg .
Through further research, the county discovered that Latina mothers expressed concern about placing their children in car seats, labeling the practice as cold and uncaring and stating that it felt awkward not to hold their children in their laps. Officials realized that the issue was not merely the cost of the car seats but beliefs and norms about their usage. As part of addressing this, they launched a campaign to shift the behavioral norms about using car seats. The county partnered with a local Latina comedian to create a public safety campaign that outreached to the Latino community, illustrating the importance of using car seats to keep children safe, and more importantly, emphasizing the nurturing aspects of putting children safely in child seats. The campaign featured the local comedian wearing a large car seat everywhere that she went-to the grocery store, the bank, and even at her wedding. The message portrayed was that at first a car seat may seem uncomfortable and foreign, but the more it is used, the more supportive and comfortable it becomes. The campaign ran in both English and in Spanish.
The following outcomes were achieved as a result of the county's efforts, 1) Established a funding stream to assist low-income families in the purchasing of car seats; 2) Developed a plan that built on cultural values and beliefs to promote safer behavioral norms (acceptable behaviors and attitudes), and 3) Established a partnership between public health, the local media, and local advocates to shift behavioral norms (acceptable behaviors and attitudes). This effort illustrates the need for multifaceted activities such as policies, addressing service gaps, working with community members, and using media to reach large numbers of people to shift norms.