Saying No to Peer Pressure

By: Allie Ortiz

Imagine this scenario in any common school across America. There is a girl named Megan and her friends sitting under a tree in the schoolyard eating lunch. One day her friend buys drugs for them to try and Megan refuses unlike her other friends. Her friend tells Megan that she will be kicked out of the group if she doesn't take the drugs when they all do. After all the peer pressuring Megan agrees to take them because she doesn't want to be labeled as uncool and lose her friends. Unfortunately, Megan's choice that day in succumbing to peer pressure altered the path of her life. This story ends with Megan becoming addicted to drugs and failing out of school. This sad ending could have been written differently if she had just not given into peer pressure that day in the schoolyard. Peer pressure causes teens to make bad decisions when they are around their friends and sadly, since it's barely being brought to parents' attention they are blind to the choices their children are making when they leave their home.

Studies have shown that teens more readily give in to peer pressure in many situations, unlike adults. In the article, "Teenagers, Friends, and Bad Decisions", by Tara Parker Pope she explains that, "All of us who have very good kids know they've done really dumb things when they've been with their friends." Many teens take more risks when friends are with them or watching them. (Tara Parker Pope) These teens don't understand what they are risking from giving into peer pressure. In fact, we think we've uncovered an explanation for why kids do these dumb things when with friends, that they won't do alone. (Tara Parker Pope) As you can see, under the influence of peer pressure teens can do really risky things and the percentage of teens giving into peer pressure increases as they go through their years.

In the article,"Orlando Park Death Proves Peer Pressure Kills", it states, "she wouldn't back down from anything..... she wouldn't do anything dangerous." Many teenagers won't back down from dangerous situations. However, they should be more confident to use better judgment when they are placed in a precarious situation. When surrounded by negativity from friends peer pressure can make you loose your life. Elizabeth Wakulich lost her life because of peer pressure when she was pronounced dead with a blood alcohol level of 0.381 percent. This resulted from her taking the $80 bet to chug alcohol. ( Rubin and Taylor) In this case, Elizabeth and others didn't look at the dangerous side of peer pressuring. In the end, the friends didn't realize it would be so bad to cost Elizabeth's life. Many friends don't realize what their doing until something bad happens. This tragic example of how peer pressure can cost lives is not uncommon and is seen all too often in the world we live.

Well intentioned parents may attempt to explain peer pressure to their kids but it's not enough to get them to stop giving in to it. There are posters, assemblies, discussions, and social media posts trying to help get the message across to teenagers that giving into peer pressure has significant consequences. Unfortunately, the teens aren't getting the messages and are continuing to put their lives and their friends lives at risk. "Nothing is going to change until it happens to them or someone really close to them." (Rubin and Taylor) As you can see, peer pressure has gone way to far and the only way for teens to notice the danger of peer pressure is by someone getting hurt. All negative peer pressure is hurting these teens inside and out. Parents need to notice that having small discussions isn't enough and that their teens need to be watched. In fact, " for parents the study data reinforces the nation that groups of teenagers need close supervision." (Tara Parker Pope) Parents need to teach their children and teens the reality of peer pressure and the consequences it has. They also need to be vigilant in watching their teens to making sure they aren't the ones causing it.

Some people argue that peer pressure is positive by having teens make new friends and have better self esteem. However, with negative peer pressure it's hard to see what influence friends have on teens when they hang out, go to parties, and so much more. When around friends, parents can't control or even see what their teens do and that's a problem that often has no easy solution.

As you can see, peer pressure can influence teens to make many bad choices that can destroy their lives. Furthermore, the peer pressure outbreaks that go on across all schools are not being brought to the attention of parents. Stopping peer pressure and giving teenagers a stronger sense of self and better decision making will save many teens lives. In addition, it will encourage them to not listen to what their friends are telling them to do but to rather think for themselves. We need to help get the message out and have greater consequences for the people causing peer pressure. Peer pressure is so important because it effects so many teenagers on a daily basis. In conclusion, peer pressure and it's outcomes should be a topic discussed in not only all schools. It in all homes as well. It is only when these conversations begin to happen that teenagers will have a shot at saying no to peer pressure.

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