Everybody is affected by peer pressure at some point in their lives. Some may feel it’s an issue you face in your teenage years or early adolescence. However, it’s actually a very widespread problem and is out of control. Kids that are in primary and middle school are dealing with these issues everyday, as well as adults. Peer pressure causes you to make decisions and choices that you normally may not even consider doing. It is important to have friends and people to rely on, but sometimes their influence can be negative. Many struggle to fit in, they want to be liked, cared about, and included in daily activities. When faced with these challenges, they must go along with what is happening, or what everyone is doing. If they choose not to participate, they will be made fun of or not included in the group anymore. Peer pressure is happening everyday, and everyone needs to understand there are ways to handle this problem.

Being pressured is a horrible feeling that you are being forced into a situation to make a bad choice. Sometimes even being forced into a good situation can cause you anguish. Peer pressure can be a good thing if the individual is trying to help you overcome a fear, or help you to succeed. This is often not the case. Even though peer pressure can be a good thing, it is still trying to make you do something you are not comfortable doing. It is so easy to give in because a lot of people do not have the confidence to say no, even though they have the power. Getting out of a situation at times can be so hard, but everyone is able to walk away if they choose.

Learning to resist pressure can take some time, but you have to have self-confidence. Some may feel like they have to lie, and not be themselves. Overcoming the fear of saying no is very important and empowering. Helping yourself with daily decisions sets a positive example for not only yourself but others too. Choosing the right friends to hang around with is a wise choice, but not always possible.

Our peers are pressuring us in so many ways. We may not even be realizing it. One of the biggest examples of peer pressure for teens and adults is drinking and drugs. Making a person feel bad or inferior to do these things not only makes them feel weak, it lowers their self-confidence to say no. When you force someone to try something that is obviously dangerous, we all need to realize that that person is helping you self-destruct. Why would a good friend want to bring a possible lifetime of addiction and struggle your way? They wouldn’t! This is why it’s important in choosing the right crowd to be a part of. Another example of peer pressure is smoking. To some, smoking may appear cool, but in reality, everyone knows it is dangerous. Kids become addicted to smoking at such a young age because their friends tell them to try it. Even when they don’t like it, they continue to smoke to please others. Once you start lowering your standards it is easier to make bad choices. Bad choices lead you not only down a bad path but a bad future. Other pressures can be the simplest things. Clothing and accessories are another big pressure for students. Going back to school can be a struggle because some can’t afford name brand clothing. Being pressured to dress like others should not determine your value as a person. This pressure could cause someone to steal just to have what others have.

Peer pressure is a big issue with teenagers in our society

  • 41% of all teens are pressured to be mean to others.
  • 25% teen girls are pressured to do drugs/alcohol.
  • 23% of teen girls are pressured to have sex.
  • 67% teen girls are pressured to dress a certain way.
  • 44% of all teens are pressured to lie, steal, or cheat.
  • 30% of students are pressured to do drugs in middle school and high school.
  • Over 75% of kids have tried alcohol due to peer pressure.
  • In general, students feel pressured about 49% of the time.
  • 51% of teens feel that 51% of peer pressure is positive.
  • 3.1 Million teens smoke, according to the American Lung Association.

An important time in a teenagers life is getting their driver’s license. WIth that comes a struggle for many when they get behind the wheel because they feel as though they have to show off. The pressure from their peers making them race, speed, and not wearing a seat belt, puts not only them in danger, but others as well.  This pressure alone causes so much heartbreak for families, including my own. I lost two cousins at the ages of 14 and 16 due to reckless driving. The driver lost control of the vehicle due to excessive speeding. Putting this type of pressure on your friend or trying to look cool results in horrible consequences. The tragic ending here is that the driver walked away scratch free, but my cousins died. This incident has helped me realize early in life that your peers have a major influence on your life. A lot of teenagers turn to their peers for advice and examples before turning to an adult. No one should ever have to be put into a situation or pressured into something that results in a bad life-changing experience.

There are many ways to handle peer pressure. Learning to stand up for yourself and being able to say no, is most important. Think about what is important to you, and how you want your life to be. Set your goals.  Avoiding certain crowds of people you know that will pressure you is a good way to start. Start to separate yourself from the wrong crowd and find the good. Another way is to not let people persuade you or hurt your feelings. Just say NO. Accepting the fact that not everyone will like you is ok. Walking away is not a bad thing. This will become easier and easier once you learn your power. Your actions will not only help you but may help others.

In writing this, we all know the pressures today are very hard to fit in. There are so many different changes in the world every day. There is no reason why others should control your actions. Be strong. I hope this article has helped others to see that they are not alone. You have a voice. You have choices. Make them known!

[Photo by Kara Vincent Art]

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