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Is Peer Pressure Really a Thing?

Anna Giolitti, Staff

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Peer pressure is defined as the direct influence on people by peers, or the effect on an individual who gets encouraged to follow their peers by changing their attitudes, values or behaviors to conform to those of the influencing group or individual.  

You always hear stories about kids getting pressured to drink alcohol, do drugs, and other crazy things by their friends in order to fit in and be like their friend, but is peer pressure really even a thing?  

“I think peer pressure is definitely a thing because a lot of people don’t stand up for themselves,” sophomore Lily Mellendick remarked.

Peer pressure occurs for a number of different reasons; most of them have to do with trying to fit in and be considered ‘cool.’ 

The author of the Director of Studies at Nu Vision High School says that “Peer pressure occurs when group of people coerce each other to go along with certain beliefs or behaviors. The group approves of the followers and sometimes harshly disapproves of those who don’t fall in line. The consequences of being rejected by one’s peers are embarrassment and shame, both very negative emotions for teens.” 

Most people could say that they have been in a situation where either they were peer pressured to do something or they pressured someone to do something.  

“One time someone was trying to pressure me into smoking cigarettes, and to do some other stuff that I didn’t want to,” sophomore Brandon Pryor shared.  

A lot of times someone will peer pressure someone and not even know that they are either because that person doesn’t say anything or because they’re not even aware of what peer pressure is and they don’t think anything of it.  

“Even though I try to respect everyone, I feel like I have peer pressured someone, and I didn’t even know it. It definitely wasn’t on purpose,” sophomore Cing Nem explained.  

Often times, the individual doesn’t even want to do the thing they are being pressured into doing, If this is the case, there are a number of different things you could do in order to get yourself out of that situation.  

“You should just say no and be sure that the person knows you are being serious. If they respect you, they should just drop it,” sophomore Brandon Pryor said. 

Peer pressure doesn’t always have to be being forced to do something bad; it can also be changing your attitude or behavior because someone is telling you that you should or because you would be more popular if you did.  

“I don’t act and do the things that my friends do, and sometimes they’ll point that out and try to make me act differently. Usually I just try not to pay attention to them and do my own thing,” freshmen Ismael Diaz said. 

Peer pressure is a real thing that happens all the time to everyone, whether you realize it or not. Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of peer pressuring you. So, what can we do about peer pressure? 

“We offer a program here at school called Safe Schools Ambassadors. Students are trained in ways to deescalate potentially harmful situations that may occur between students,” Guidance department chair Brittany Watkins explained. “The best way to prevent peer pressure is to encourage and instill confidence in our students. The more self-confident a student is the more likely they are to not succumb to peer pressure.”
 

Brett Laursen, a fellow of the American Psychological Association and professor of psychology at Florida Atlantic University, believes that there are many different things we can do to get rid of peer pressure. He believes that he first thing we should do is up to parents. 

“The first thing I think that parents can do is that they can help children recognize that attempts to influence them are everywhere,” he explained. 

Everybody is faced with peer pressure at some point, other times it is more serious than others. The main thing is to be aware that it is a thing and learn to say no.

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Is Peer Pressure Really a Thing?