Peer Pressure: Positive or Negative

The definition of peer pressure is the influence of members of one’s peer group. Peer pressure can be positive and negative for a student. Throughout high school and our teenage years are responsible for an immense part of shaping us into the person we are going to be in the future. A school is a place for us to learn, but it is also a place for us to develop people skills and create relationships with different people. People skills and relationships can be created through clubs, sports, or any other school activities that can be found at the schools, and that is where a student can find those good and bad influences. In high school, you feel a lot of emotions that can range from good and bad, and it can make us vulnerable and easy for us to fall victim to peer pressure.

Negative and positive peer pressure, both involve you getting pressured into something the only difference between the two is one is better than the other. Positive peer pressure can help teens form good habits like good health and better social interactions. Negative peer pressure can cause students to start doing drugs, drinking alcohol, among other things. Peer pressure, whether it is good or bad, is still responsible for potentially influencing students into doing something they probably would not do on their own. Everyone at some point in life deals with peer pressure whether it is negative or positive. No one is an exception to being exposed to peer pressure. Everyone must learn to have the confidence to say no to peers in tough situations. When it comes to peer pressure, it is important to know if it is positive or negative because your friends might have a more negative effect on you or they could have a more positive effect.

A negative influence on people can range from them doing drugs, drinking or change in their behavior at home and/or at school, cheating on tests and many more. Those are just a few of the effects negative peer pressure has on teens. Peer pressure can be dangerous and it can cause depression, high-stress levels, negative behavior issues, and making poor decisions that will lead to having bad outcomes. In 2018, statistics said 20% to 30% of adolescents report symptoms of depression because of peer pressure. High schoolers already have a lot of responsibilities like getting to school on time, doing homework, studying for classes, sports, and even working a part-time job. The last thing a student needs is people pressuring them into doing things that are not in their best interest.

Negative peer pressure can come in many forms here are three-ways the teens can become a victim to negative peer pressure. The first form of negative peer pressure is insults; the peers make someone feel bad for not doing something, so they give in to peer pressure. The second form of peer pressure is something called unspoken peer pressure; it is when you simply see all your peers doing something or wearing some form of clothing that makes you feel pressure to copy them. The last is rejection; pressure by threatening to end a relationship or a friendship. Teens have a hard time with self-esteem and self-image which makes it easy for us to fall victim to peer pressure because we don’t really know who we are yet. Here are some pressure pointers. Listen to your gut if you feel uncomfortable then the situation is wrong for you. Have the courage to say no. Plan for possible peer pressure situations. For example, if you go to a party and you are not sure if there will be alcohol or drugs, rehearse what you will say or do so you don’t end up feeling pressured to drink or do drugs. Arrange a bailout. For example, coming up with an excuse like you have a headache and need to go home. If you are in an uncomfortable situation and you don’t have the courage to say no, then blame your parents and say something “they would kill me if she finds out. I’m not risking it.” The best way to stand up against peer pressure is to get the courage and confidence to say no.

Peer pressure isn’t always a negative thing. There is a thing called positive peer pressure and positive peer pressure is when someone’s influence on you has a good effect on you. Some examples of it are, doing well in school, doing sports and being more goal-oriented. Having friends that help build you up instead of tearing you down is an important thing in high school. Having people or friends in your life that are positive and give you positive feedback and advice that helps you can make you more confident in yourself. Positive peer pressure can keep teens away from drugs and alcohol. It also can help the student maintain a healthy lifestyle and have a better attitude towards other people. Being around positive examples can turn them into positive leaders that other people will look up to and want to follow. It might be positive but it is still peer pressure and it is getting you to do things that you normally don’t do. It is important in high school and your teen years to find people that will be a good influence.

Mrs. Labrie and Mrs. Webb and shared their thoughts on peer pressure. Mrs. LaBrie shared that negative peer pressure can present itself as underage drinking or smoking or even just doing something that you are uncomfortable with. When asked if Mrs. Labrie could recall a personal peer pressure experiences, she shared,  “I can’t think of anything too big. Nobody asked me to do drugs or drink alcohol. I was never asked to go to those types of parties. There were a couple of times when I was at someone’s house and realized that they are doing stuff upstairs, and I would never feel like I had to go up there and be part of it.” Labrie also shared that, “everyone wants to be liked and if they don’t have a sense of self-worth distilled in them, then they might need to find that self-worth from other people. Even if you are getting pressured to do something that is not illegal, you may still succumb to peer pressure. So a person needs to find their own self-worth and have your own confidence. Be okay with who you are and in that process, they become leaders. Other people will want to be around them.” 

Mrs. Kate Webb shared that “Being pressured means having that pressure to do things to fit in that you normally wouldn’t do.  Those things might go against your morals. There will always be someone that will fall victim to peer pressure. It is kind of a part of people figuring out where you belong in the world. Sometimes you will try to fit in with people that aren’t really good for you. They might go against your morals, might make you go against things that make you feel uncomfortable doing. A lot of people fall victim to it just to fit into crowds and kind of find their place. I have seen it happen at least in my last two years of working here” Webb parted by saying that students should work to “build confidence, know yourself, and know your coping skills. Know what things to do that will make you feel better. Do things that make you feel good and don’t do things that make you feel bad. It is an easy thing to say, but it is not an easy thing to apply because people aren’t going to change overnight. Know where you are accepted and feel good and hone in on things that you do well. Then that confidence will help people and see that they don’t need to fit in and act a certain way to feel like they belong.” 

It is a hard task to stop negative peer pressure and encourage positive peer pressure because it can be difficult for a student who doesn’t know if the people they hang out with are having a bad influence on them. The best way to stop negative peer pressure is to have self-confidence and the courage to say no if a situation makes you feel uncomfortable. It is important for everyone to know that they are special. They don’t have to fit into any kind of mold. It is cheesy, but you have to be yourself because being who you are is better than pretending to be someone else. Find friends that accept you for who you are, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to change to be friends with them. Peer pressure is a problem, and we will probably never get rid of it but finding positive influences can lead to you becoming a positive influence on others. Just remember if people really care about you, they won’t make you change. You are special and you don’t have to change to fit in.