Peer Pressure and Its Impact on Teenagers Choices

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“It’s just one toke, smoke it! Are you a wimp?! Prove how cool you say you are, you baby” What would you do? Would you smoke the cigarette, prove how “cool” you are? In today’s society, many teens are placed in situations where they are left with the choice of being looked at like the loser of the group or making an inadequate decision to be accepted due to peer pressure. There are two types of peer pressure, the positive peer pressure and the negative peer pressure. However, in today’s society, peer pressure works as a negative agent of socialization because teenagers want to feel accepted with the crowd. The reason for peer pressure to be seen more as a negative agent of socialization as oppose to a positive agent of socialization is that in high schools it is a known fact that teens will follow what their friends are doing even if they are engaging in unpleasant activities such as bullying. Also, a teen will even change the way they are due to peer pressure. To add to that, due to recent studies and statistics, it shows that underage drug and alcohol abuse has become more evident over the past few years and the main cause is peer pressure. Because of the poor choices that most teens are making today to fit into the crowd, it is clearly evident that peer pressure works as a negative agent of socialization.

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Teenagers that are involved in a certain clique in school start to develop the behaviours, personal habits and attitudes that their peers have. Even though teens may think that the people in their clique are their friends and look for the best for them, it may not be so. Sometimes the teens within a clique will pressure the others into bullying. The teens that are pressured into this just do this because they want to fit in and or get attention. Peer pressure is a form of bullying. It just turns out to be that your friend can also be your bully. 234,000 teens die every year as a result of peer pressure (Alcohol Abuse Facts). Even though the teenagers may have wanted to fit in, maybe the pressure was too much to handle so rather than isolating themselves, they feel like death is the only way out. Teenagers who are involved in a clique or certain groups of peers feel like there may be some peer pressure within the group and everyone within would have to follow the rules. A teenage in a group may experience going under pressure to do things such as bullying so they can get the approval of the group. However, if the teen has low confidence and knows that what the group is doing is wrong may still interact with them because they feel that if they leave, they will also get bullied (Tarshis, T. P). Therefore, teenagers would rather stay within the group or clique and bully others to fit in and restrain from being judged.

In addition, self-esteem has also has a lot to do with peer pressure. Because, in today’s society many people are willing to go to the extent of changing their appearance, having sexual intercourse before they are ready and also changing their personality to feel like they are a part of what is seen as normal or cool. In a recent study, researchers spoke to young girls aged between fifteen and twenty-two. The researchers found that fifty-six percent of the girls were bullied because of weight, the clothes that they wear and even hair colour. The girls took action and began to diet, change their wardrobe and dye their hair a neutral colour (Humphrey, S. M ). Because of the way the girls looked, they got bullied. They did not want to change how they looked but because of the pressure, the weird looks that they got, they had no choice but to change and be a part of the social norm. The youth of today are inundated with sexual promiscuity. This comes in many different forms. From the lyrics of music to television shows. “The Kaiser Foundation reports that about fifty percent of teenagers feel pressured with regard to sex in relationships” (Humphrey, S. M). A study conducted in January 2010 stated that twenty percent of teens had sex by the age of fifteen. Between the ages of fifteen to nineteen, forty-six percent of teens have had sex at least once by peer pressure (Inge, C). If that number is broken down, it equals out to seven out of ten teenagers have had sex by the age of 19 due to peer pressure. Sexual intercourse is a big part of one’s life. Teenagers should not be forced to go through it when they are not ready. However, because their peers feel like it is right, they go ahead and do it because they feel like they would be more accepted and looked upon by those around them. Personality can also be a change due to peer pressure. A well-known respectful student by the name of Raamji Dharmarajah gave his story on how peer pressure changed his personality. Raamji went to class and saw that there was a supply teacher. His friends in the class were all making fun of the supply teacher. As mentioned previously, Raamji is a respectful student. However, his friends told him to join in. As he refused, his friend began laughing and throwing rude comments towards him. Raamji did not like the way it felt so he also insulted the supply teacher (Raamji Dharmarajah). This is a clear demonstration that due to the pressure that Raamji was feeling, he changed his personality and followed the crowed so he would not be looked at differently and be left out.

Lastly, over the past couple of years, underage drinking and drug abuse has definitely become more evident. There have been recent studies and statistics that show how many students engaged in such activities because of peer pressure. To begin with, as a teenager, one may –most likely- encounter a certain amount of pressure to drink. The feeling can range from your friends doing it and seem to be having the time of their lives or it can even be that you do not want to be left out at the parties or social gatherings that you may be invited to which seem to revolve around underage drinking. “Many teenagers of today -mainly boys (young men) - are very protective over their reputation and how others see them. They are very competitive and will usually try to outperform each other at an opportunity that comes their way” (Humphrey, S. M). If everyone around one is indulging alcohol, it can be very hard to not join in. If everyone else is indulging, it can be extremely hard to resist joining in. However, forty-nine percent of Ontario grade twelve students admit to binge drinking with friends (Alcohol Abuse Facts). Of that forty-nine percent, twenty-seven percent admitted that they only drank because their peers told them to. When asked why they agreed, they teenagers had no shame in admitting that they wanted to be accepted into the crowd. They teenagers also stated that they were afraid of not being invited to future social gatherings so they went along with it. Underage drug abuse also goes hand in hand with peer pressure. The top two substances used by Ontario students: twenty-five percent- marijuana; eleven percent –tobacco (Alcohol Abuse Facts). The pressure that may be felt by the teen can be straight forward with one making someone engage in an activity. However, in some cases, peer pressure can be more subtle, which means that the teen will not be considered cool if they do not participate in the activity that everyone else is engaging in. The only way a teenager could completely avoid being put in these situations would be to not spend time in the company of those who are engaging in such activities. The only way to avoid these situations completely is to ensure you do not spend time in the company of people who are going to get involved in such activities. That could be a very hard thing for a teenager to do but if the pressure from peers is becoming unbearable; it is the right thing to do.

To conclude, because of the poor influences that surround teenagers that make them want to fit in, peer pressure is a negative agent of socialization. Teenagers of today engage in almost everything that their peers or members of their clique are doing. Theses activities can include something as horrible as bullying, changing the person they really are and even indulging drugs and alcohol. Peer pressure is an occurrence because one does not want to be alone or left out. “Peer pressure is something everyone will face in school. You have to really go by what you think is the right thing to do. Turn to the friends you trust the most when you are put in a compromising situation. If your friends are making the wrong decision, then turn to your parents” (Madisen Beaty).

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