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The Negative Effects of Peer Pressure in the Teenaged Years

By mrflubby8 Sep 27, 2013 1420 Words
The Negative Effects of Peer Pressure in the Teenaged Years
He’s in the store, there's ten dollars on the counter and the cashier isn't paying attention. His obnoxious friend yells "Do it!!!!" Then you're facing a battle in your mind whether you should or not.  He start sweating, and he sees his friend getting frustrated as he says, "Come on…bitching out?" He feels stuck. Instead of doing what he know is right, he slowly reach out his hand and steals. Ever experienced a similar situation? If so, you have been through peer pressure. What is peer pressure? Peer pressure in general terms is an influence from members of one's peer group. When people think of peer pressure, the first thing that comes to mind for many may be the negative effects of it. Peer pressure is not always a bad thing. It's how we chose to react to the peer pressure that defines one as an individual. American poet, Bruce Smith said, "A healthy part of every child's development is involvement with their peers. This is especially true during adolescence as teenagers develop a sense of independence from their parents."  Peers influence our lives, even if we do not realize it. We learn from them, and they learn from us. It's only human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group. In Robert Epstein's The Case Against Adolescence, he makes a valid point that, "Teens tend to imitate each other, not adults. They spend almost all their time with peers and virtually no time with adults." (174). Peer pressure deals with people taking a negative or positive influence in a certain situation from those peers. It is rare for teenagers who lack self-esteem and feel the same as their peers not to lead into peer pressure. It is human nature for teens to want to group together for safety and security and have people accept them for who they are. But when there are differences between them and the peer group, they are no longer belonging and end up getting thrown out of the group. Because of this, people within a group conform to group attitudes and behaviors. As stated previously, peer pressure, mainly dealing with teenagers, can be both negative and positive. When home and school doesn't work for teens, they then make wrong decisions, cultivate bad habits, and lose their true identity. Many times teens lead into a certain kind of lifestyle due to peer pressure. They may not like partying every weekend, night outs with friends, or even drinking or smoking, but peer pressure may make you do things you wouldn’t normally do. Teenagers resort to sex, drugs and alcohol, which provide that comfort that they always needed and wanted from their peers and family. (http://www.buzzle.com/articles/negative-peer-pressure.html) With the media industry edging the youth along with TV shows such as, Hung, 16 and Pregnant, Cali fornication, etc., sex has rapidly became an impact to American children with exposure to an increasing level and range of sexual TV content. "Less than half of teenagers are actually having sex. The ones that are, everyone knows they are, and the others are saying it to fit in...," said author Robert W. McCormack in regards to his concern of sex and its pressure with teenagers. Many teens feel pressure to have sex before they are ready. Often, it comes from their perspective friends who have already experienced intercourse, indicating teens to have greater chances to lead into it. From a very young age, males are told that you have to be a man throughout any given situation. This is a type of pressure that is not only put on by other teenagers but also family members. However, with sex, their decision to have sex is heavily influenced by friends. According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, one-third of teenage males feel pressure from their friends to have sex. The decision whether to listen to everyone or be true to themselves is in their hands but because teens want to fit in and be the popular kid who acts like an adult, they are ignorant to many things that may affect them in the long run to adulthood and makes wrongful decision. (http://www.ex-designz.net/articleread.asp?aid=2183). Many young ladies and gentlemen decide to be sexually active because they that everyone is doing "it". Many times, young ladies are pressured into having sex with their partners because they feel as though they have to "prove" that they love their partner. "Sex is an easy route to adulthood in this country." (Epstein 137). Not only is being sexually active a negative effect due to peer pressure, so is under aged drinking and use of drugs. "According to the Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base, 30 percent of teens are offered drugs in middle school and high school.” As well as sex, many teenagers are often pressured to see who can smoke the most marijuana or "Mary Jane" or who can drink the most liquor. Drinking is considered to be "cool", and with everyone around opting for alcoholic drinks, certain teens resort to it. Unfortunately, it becomes a habit. "Young people who have at least three friends who smoke are 10 times more likely to smoke than young people who have no friends who smoke, according to Peer Pressure and Smoking by Philip Morris USA." Smoking and drinking produces a high rate of addiction among teenagers, ages 12 through 18. Epstein, author of The Case Against Adolescence, explains his view on drugs and alcohol to teens, "It's common for young people to use drugs and alcohol in these ways: to relieve the pain of their own persistent psychological or physical problems. Teens and adults also drink or take drugs to bond with, impress, or manipulate friends, colleagues, or lovers." (133). Teens that are still constantly pressured, rejected, powerless, and feel unimportant can lead into depression. Depression can be expressed in anger, agitation and sometimes suicide. Girls, in particular, tend to doubt themselves, their problem-solving abilities and view their problems as unsolvable more so than boys. Candice A. Alfano and Deborah C. Bedel, authors of Social Anxiety in Adolescents and Young Adults, stated that "Depression is more prevalent among girls during adolescence" (82). Both sexes are inclined to depression however with drugs, alcohol and the many other negative effects of peer pressure.  It may also involve environmental stress. Environmental stress includes a lack of family support, friends, and confidence. The pressure teens, and even adults, take to strive to project the "correct" image, whether impressing and standing out or fit into a specific group of people, usually dictate how a teenager behaves and the future effects of health in their lives. Health concerns for teenagers, due to negative peer pressure, include mental and physical disabilities. Mental disabilities are produced in teenagers from their difficult circumstances dealing with friends or classmates encouraging them to drink, smoke, or have sex and suffering from day to day struggles. When sexual activity occurs, teenagers are unaware of the harmful effects that may happen such as, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, or the myriad of sexual transmitted diseases that can occur. "As of 2002, only 38% of sexually active teen couples are using condoms." (Epstein 137). This causes higher chances of HIV/AIDS. As for physical disabilities, teenagers regularly obtain certain disorders that are caused from neighborhoods, schools and other influences. Due to smoking and drinking, teenagers can be affected with chronic coughs, bad breath, reduced stamina or asthma, and other harmful disabilities in a teen's life. (http://www.familyfirstaid.org/teen-smoking.html). It also increases the chances of lung cancer and changes in brain development. Unfortunately, death also falls into the negative effects of peer pressure. Negative peer pressure will remain a part of a teen's life into adulthood, which is why it is important for teens to learn how to stand up against it in their personal lives. Teenagers could avoid falling into negative peer pressure by spending time with friends and family, who will always support, would help engage those who feel harmed by peer pressure in this society. "Friendships in adolescence are described as close relationships looking for intimacy and acceptance." (Alfano and Bedel 144). Finding friends who share similar interests and hobbies, is better than trying to "fit" in with the cool group. So next time you are being peer pressured, follow what you know is right and not what is considered cool. As Oscar Wilde said, "Be yourself; everyone else is already taken."

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