Peer Pressure

By Enid Westerlund. 11 December 2022, 2:00PM

Welcome home if you’ve been locked out since Covid. Town is puzzling with activity with family and school is out! Well done to all graduates. You’ve done well as it has been a most challenging year. 

As we enjoy this party season, let’s not forget about peer pressure on not just teenagers but adults too. So many things can go wrong, many decisions will waver and many intended ’nos’ will turn to ‘yes’ due to the need to conform.

Research shows the most impressionable age for peer influence seems to be the middle school years. This is when we are forming new friendships and choosing an identity among those friends . This is also the age where children start experimenting with drugs, alcohol, sexual activity and risky behaviours (Raeligh, 2009). 

However, this is not just in middle school years, peer pressure happens at all ages. Think of how many adults try to fit into the boxes that society lays puts us in. The way we dress, the way we look, how we should behave, the kind of house we should live in, the kind of car we should drive and so forth.

Often, the risky behaviour is a result of negative peer pressure. Adolescents and adults have larger circles of friends and appear to be less influenced by the suggestion of peers, still the pressure to conform is still very real for many of us. There are several types of peer pressure.

1. Unspoken peer pressure: When one is exposed to the actions of one or more peers and chooses which one to follow. This can take the form of personal interactions, ‘joining choices’ and even fashion choices. Due to the maturity level of teenagers, they find if hard to control their impulses and solid decision making. They are therefore susceptible to negative peer pressure from older and more popular friends.

2. Direct Peer Pressure : This can be spoken or unspoken and is normally behaviour centric.

3. Positive Peer Pressure : This is peer pressure in a group dynamic which can be very positive if the behaviours are healthy, age appropriate and socially acceptable.This can be a friend encouraging others, working to earn money and learning to save which can also help teenagers in the group who need some positive influence in their lives.

4. Negative Peer Pressure : This is being asked to go against your values and moral code.For instance, a teenager seeings actions of another peer with a stronger personality and is put in a position to follow suit. This is not uncommon.

5. Spoken Peer Pressure :When on suggests, persuades or directs another to engage in a specific behaviour. When it’s done one on one, the recipient has a stronger chance of keeping to her or his guns. However, if done in a group, the spoken influence has a stronger voice and the receiver is forced to adhere.

6. Indirect Peer Pressure : Similar to unspoken peer pressure , although subtle can still exert strong influence on a young person.

While these are true for teenagers, I think it’s more challenging for adults as we play within bigger circles and have access to much more than our teenagers. 

We must remember that as parents, we have the strongest influence on our children. Supporting healthy relationships, open communication and modelling good behaviour can set the positive foundation for all of us. 

Please take the time to talk to your teenagers and children today. I know things will go wrong, there will be deaths over the holidays, let those not be suicide because we are not listening enough to our children. 

While we enjoy another peaceful Sunday Samoa, enjoy responsibility and look out for each other. Have a great week ahead!


By Enid Westerlund. 11 December 2022, 2:00PM
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