Peer Relationships

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Having arrived at the gateway to adulthood, the teenage years are an exciting time of freedom, no responsibilities, and supposedly the best time of your life; unfortunately it is not always a cake walk. Whether it is maintaining good grades or keeping up with what the plans are for the weekend, there is a serious amount of pressure throughout high school and it becomes easy to get lost in the madness. Studies show that the qualities of peer relationships at this time are key contributors to mental health now and throughout life. Positive relationships are beneficial to young adults because it helps in gaining a sense of what good social interactions are and produces equal or greater relationships in the future. On the flip side, poor peer relationships can have negative effects on adulthood mental health and social relations. Unforgiving social cliques and high societal expectations are a few causes of the shrinking of teen self-esteem and disruption of stable mental well-being. When students start high school they quickly find their place on the social ladder. Some students find themselves at to top, some find a place in the middle they’re comfortable with, and others are sometimes cast out and pushed to the bottom by the rest. Social status and cliques rank unnecessarily high in importance amongst adolescents; teens are consistently pressured to maintain their high social standing. This chronic stress leads to their disengagement from classroom activities (McGrath & Noble, 2010). Even pupils that seem to be at the top of their social ladder develop conflict among one another, disrupting school performance. These students become more focused on the trifling drama and maintaining social stature and find the importance of school beginning to decline. Research conducted by Helen McGrath and Toni Noble shows that, young adults that have poor relationships with their peers, show lower levels of school achievement and higher levels of school avoidance. Once teenagers’ attention is elsewhere in the classroom, they begin to fall behind on school work due to the fact that they are more focused on their life outside of school. Bad study habits can develop if they are engrossed in their social life and they can carry those bad study habits with them through high school to college. Pupils with high social standing are not the only ones affected by negative peer relationships; it influences students at the bottom of the social ladder as well. The so called “bottom” of the social ladder is made up of persons that have often times been rejected by their peers for one reason or another; they may dress different, act a certain way, or lack some sort of attribute that society believes is necessary. Students that are excluded from their peers still seek the same social fulfillment as others; in a way this causes them to be more desperate for that fulfillment. Being bullied by social exclusion may appear less visibly harmful than verbal or physical forms of bullying but may be more detrimental to children’s participation in learning activities and have more impact on their academic outcomes, states McGrath and Noble. Social exclusion and bullying can go even further than classroom disengagement; as a result of bullying, people can lose their ability to love and trust, denying them the chance to experience a quality relationship later in their life. They might find themselves as a submissive partner or they may want to be completely alone. Aside from its long-term effects, some consequences of bullying can be seen and felt immediately. When one calls another a harsh name, the victim might cry, just like a bruise might appear after a punch to the arm. However, some effects of bullying are not always obvious to the naked eye. The results of bullying might grow and appear over time, damaging a person in profound ways for the long term. Victims often develop eating disorders, begin to self-injure, or require extensive counseling. Social...
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