Contrary to popular belief, peer pressure isn’t something that suddenly comes about in teenagehood. It is there from our earliest social interactions. Babies look to their mothers for cues on how to behave, toddlers look to their teachers and friends, and teens look to the ‘cool kids’.
As pack animals that we are, humans naturally look to the “alpha’s” to dictate our behaviour, what is acceptable and what isn’t. It’s just how we are. We even self-evaluate to see if our behaviour is in line with that of the rest of the pack.
Children in Primary or Elementary school are at a phase in their lives psychologists call the industry vs inferiority. At this stage, children form and cultivate same-sex friendships. These are important as they facilitate positive and healthy development.
Peer Pressure is not always negative. The problem with these seemingly harmless pressures is not that children are pressured to change their lunchboxes or wear certain types of clothes. The problem is that if this continues into their preteen and teenage years, they would eventually begin reckless behaviour such as drugs, sex, alcohol, and pornography because they never overcame peer pressure.
That doesn’t scare you? Okay, then let’s talk statistics. According to recent research on the subject:
In Canada, 70% of teens who smoke say they started because of peer pressure (Canadian lung association). In the USA, 3.1 Million teens smoke. (According to the American Lung Association.)
It is estimated that in the USA, approximately 30% of 8th graders have tried illicit drugs. 30% of — that’s almost 1 out of 3 — students are pressured to do drugs in middle school and high school. 25% of teen girls are urged by friends to do drugs.
According to another research, every day, 2,500 teens (that equals more than 900,000 teens every year) are trying a prescription drug for the first time.
Over 75% of teens have tried alcohol due to peer pressure. Other studies show that 2 thirds (⅔) of 10th graders and 2 fifths (⅖) of 8th graders have tried alcohol (according to Underage Research Drinking Initiative).
Sex and sexual relationships among teenagers
50% of all teenagers feel pressured to have sex if they are in a relationship. 23% of teen girls are pressured to have sex.
67% of teen girls are pressured to dress a certain way. 44% of all teens are pressured to lie, steal, or cheat.
41% of all teens are pressured to be mean to others.
If your child is exhibiting anxiety about being around his/her friends, this may indicate conflicts, dissatisfaction and issues in their peer group relationships. They need some guidance from parents.
59.8% of teenagers that talk with their parents about the dangers of alcohol and substance use are less likely to abuse those substances. (According to Health and Human Services).
Statistics show that addictions carried into adulthood, such as alcohol consumption and cigarette smoking are the two most common practices that teens take up due to peer pressure. This just shows that if you don’t help your child overcome peer-pressure, there can be long-term and even irreversible damages to them in the future.
Here are some simple ways to protect your child against peer pressure.