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Peer Pressure - Allowing Others to influence your thoughts and actions
By: Karen L., Frank Roberts Jr. High, Foxtrap, NF

At a time when being accepted is most important in a person's life, students are under a great deal of pressure from others as well as pressure from within. Some adolescents will risk being grounded, losing their parents' trust, or even facing jail time, just to try and fit in or feel like they have a group of friends they can identify with. Sometimes, teens will change the way they dress, their friends, give up their values or create new ones, depending on the people they hang around with.

"People will do things they normally wouldn't do in order to be accepted," said Frank Roberts Jr. High student Nicole H.

We've all heard about it in "Dare" or read about it in the latest issue of "Seventeen". People, especially adults, claim that peer pressure in Jr. high and high school is horrible. The media portray us as not being able to go anywhere without giving into the needs of our friends. In doing so, however, we will become addicts. We will start drinking and smoking and we will become someone bad. What we have to do is take a look at the real situation. That's the media's image of teenagers.

A healthy part of every child's development is involvement with her peers. This is especially true during adolescence as teenagers develop a sense of independence from their parents. Members of the peer group often dress alike, they talk about similar things, like the same music, laugh at the same jokes, and share secrets. Friends provide the young adult with a sounding board to test their ideas and a standard by which to judge their time away from home. Whether at school, social events, or the homes of their friends, a major source of a teen's security is usually found in the approval of their peers.

Teens who act a certain way because they believe their friends expect that from them are feeling peer pressure, whether or not the expectation is linked to a threat of being left out. Adolescents feel pressure to give in to ways the group expects so that they will later receive what they want form the group. Groups hold a very influential place in a young adult's life because they give their members the qualities that we teens seek

There are many reasons why teens give in to peer pressure. They are influenced by age, motivation to join a group, status with a group, self-blame, gangs, and alcohol and drug use. These are only six of the pressures that influence us teens feel today.

Peer pressure is a normal aspect in our lives. As teens we have to pick and choose our battles. For example, just because we don't like a current teen fashion doesn't mean that we have to fight it. When everyone at school is wearing jeans that are five times to big for them, you don't have to get them just to look "Cool." The subject of peer pressure affecting people's actions still remains controversial. So, the next time you are drinking or smoking at a party, ask yourself the real reason you are holding that cigarette or drinking that beer.

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