English II Pre-AP – 4
29 October 2012
Peer-Pressure- Making the Right Choices
Everyone talks about it, but why exactly is peer pressure as bad as everyone makes it seem? Peer pressure is a fancy word for the influence your peers exert on you, and it is mostly associated with teens, as they are most susceptible to such influence. Of course it is impossible to avoid getting influenced by peers altogether, but what is dangerous is that someone stops being independent when making decisions, and starts basing then on the opinions and actions of others. Peer pressure is the leading factor for which teens start using drugs, tobacco, and alcohol, and it is the reason why many teens are having sex at such a young age, thus teens must be educated on the importance of being independent and making their own choices.
When a teen is not independent, aware of the decisions he is making, and the consequences of such decisions, it can lead to drug, alcohol, and tobacco abuse. “Peer pressure has been cited as an important component in youth alcohol abuse. ‘Peer affiliation and desire for peer acceptance are hallmarks of adolescents,’ writes H. Thomas Milhorn, Jr. in Drug and Alcohol Abuse: The Authoritative Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Counselors.” (Alcohol Abuse). A nearly identical explanation would also describe the process leading up to other drug use, such as marijuana. Another commonly abused substance is tobacco, and as oen author puts it, “Teenagers who smoke give a variety of reasons for their habit—peer pressure caused by friends who smoke…” (Smoking). It is clear that peer pressure stems from the desire to be accepted by classmates; this leads teens to be dependent on the critique of peers, in turn causing them to be readily submissive and susceptible to peer pressure.
While alcohol and tobacco abuse are certainly big problems stemming from peer pressure, sex is another commonly over looked problem. Peer pressure has such a big effect on teens that “About 60 percent of my fifteen- and sixteen-year-old males report that they have had sex.” (Basso). Now even if all of those figures have not been caused due to peer pressure, it is safe to say that a large amount have as “of the 35 percent who had sex [ females], 90 percent said they regretted it and wish they had waited.” (Basso). Sex, it is obvious, is very easily influenced by pressure. This because one is not only getting pressures and influenced by his classmates, and friends, but the other partner in the relationship may can also exert sexual pressure. This can lead to very stressful situations and moments in a relationship, which is why author Michael Basso advices to “Practice assertive communication and body language, using ‘put off’ words and moves “.
Teens having sex before they are ready, as well as alcohol and tobacco abuse from peer pressure, can be dealt with by teaching teens the importance of being independent. Of course, that is not easy; as one author puts it “One of your greatest challenges will be dealing with peer pressure.”(Basso). In order to avoid peer pressure, teens should be taught the possible consequences of decisions that are not thoroughly thought out or made by oneself. A common consequence is teenage pregnancy. Then there is the fact that “11 million Americans under 21 drink alcohol…” and that “The AMA also states that nearly half of teen automobile fatalities involve alcohol and that alcohol is involved in two-thirds of sexual assaults and date rapes.” (Alcohol Abuse). If teens knew these facts, would they be so easy going with letting others do their decisions for them?
It is made clear that peer pressure leads is a big problem with teens in today’s society. Peer pressure and curiosity, addiction, or any other reason might cause the above mentioned actions. Or it might be peer pressure by itself that has caused a teen to have sex, or to abuse alcohol. The fact is, that teens must be educated on this topic in order to avoid further, more serious consequences, such as drunk driving, or a teenage pregnancy. If one knew how real these consequences were, and how easily he might be a victim of peer pressure, then maybe he would be more assertive with his desire to be independent and not allow others to decide for him.
Basso, Michael J. "Peer Pressure Shapes Teen Attitudes About Sex." Teenage Sexuality. Ed. Tamara L. Roleff. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. N. pag. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
"Introduction to Alcohol Abuse: At Issue." Alcohol Abuse. Ed. Ronnie D. Lankford. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2008. N. pag. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.
"Introduction to Smoking: Teen Decisions." Smoking. Ed. Laura K. Egendorf. San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2001. N. pag. Gale Opposing Viewpoints In Context. Web. 29 Oct. 2012.