Peer pressure is present in our daily lives. We grow up having decisions made for us by our parents, but as we enter into our teen years, we slowly start to make our own decisions. In our childhood years, our parents often hindered our choices by saying things like “if Lucy jumped off a bridge would you do the same?” Kids face many struggles during their teen years from the stress of their grades and testing, to joining sports clubs, making friends who they can rely on and many more including pressure to do something they do not want to do. Teens do not want to be the center of negative attention and talked about amongst their peers; they are faced with peer pressure constantly. Negative peer pressure can contribute to low self-esteem, drinking and doing drugs, premature sexual activity and eating disorders, to name a few. More positive peer pressure will result in healthier futures for teens. Parents need to continue to guide their teens even in their adulthood and to respect the decisions of others and not to influence others with negative peer pressure. As a parent it is so hard to see your kids have low self-esteem. They are withdrawn at times and become depressed. My daughter is a senior in high school and couldn’t be any happier to be finishing high school; it’s been such an emotional four years for her. Kids can be mean if you do not fit in their crowd. She is ready for college next year and people ask her why she does not want to go to the local college near us, and her response is that she does not want to see any of her schoolmates that annoy her.

Low self-esteem is a struggle for anyone, especially for teens. Teens may be vulnerable and they still do not know the full consequences of their actions until they are faced with it. When in situations of negative peer pressure, if they make the right decisions and say no to negative peer pressure they could face other teens who may bully or ridicule them. Low self-esteem can lead to low confidence in teens and not taking risks in their adulthood. People with high self-esteem do not care what others think and will take risks without worrying what others think. Low self-esteem will make it difficult for teens to be socially active in their communities and search for jobs when they graduate from college.

In reading an article called “Socially transmitted anorexia: Peer pressure drives eating disorders, study finds.” we see that peer pressure is also linked to eating disorders. As some teens are more aware of their bodies they may try to change the way they look by changing their eating habits. Social media is a major contributor on celebrity images and teenage girls have a social anxiety about looking like them. Nowadays, there is so much that people post on the internet or on youtube about looking a certain way, with makeup tutorials for example, and looking a certain way, that teens feel pressured into looking like these celebrities. Research done by LSE economist Dr Joan Costa-Font and Professor Mireia Jofre-Bonet of City University has linked eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia to peer pressure because teens are not eating so that they can have a certain image. According to Dr Joan Costa-Font, she states “We found evidence that social pressure, through peer shape, is a determinant in explaining anorexia nervosa and a distorted self-perception of one’s own body,”

Demi Lovato is a celebrity who has also suffered from an eating disorder. She is someone that has been in the spotlight since she was seven years old. Growing up in the spotlight she always felt like she needed to fit in and always thought she was never thin enough. She struggled with bulimia for many years until she went for treatment to help with her eating disorder. There are many videos on YouTube where she openly talks about her struggles and she once said that there was a week when she had only two meals. It’s hard to imagine a celebrity struggling with trying to fit in and have eating disorders but this is reality. Demi Lovato is a role model to young teens as she did not hide her struggles but expressed them so that other teens that are in the same situation can relate. I went to one of her concerts a couple of years ago and she is truly an amazing person who has overcome the pressures of being a celebrity trying to fit in and be like everyone else. Sometimes it is hard to have conversations with your child if they do not want to discuss it with you but parents can use Demi Lovato or other celebrities as a conversation piece to discuss peer pressure and how they can relate their struggles with them.

Teens are also pressured into drinking and doing drugs. They get invited to parties which are not usually supervised and somehow manage to get their hands on alcohol. Underaged drinking is a major problem in Long Island lately; we hear stories in the news and my daughter even tells me stories of kids coming to school the next day after a night of partying and drinking. She says that they are barely coherent in class the next day. According to an article by Melissa Colleary, published in the LIAAC, she states “The New York State Department of Health reported that in 2013, there were over 100,000 alcohol-related emergency visits in New York State and Newsday reported that between 2010 and 2015, over 350 individuals on Long Island died as a result of binge drinking.” Recently this year, there was a news article on abc7ny.com where police officers had to diffuse a house party consisting of over 400 teens in Great Neck. Police found three teens intoxicated and unconscious. The parents were also in the home but could not control the kids and had to resort to calling the police. Since there were minors who consumed alcohol in a private home, the homeowners were charged for an underaged drinking party. These are wealthy families and their kids are brought up thinking they can get away with anything. We need parents to be more educational to their kids and teach them that there are consequences to their actions. In another article called “Peer Pressure” by Karen Fanning, published in the Scholastic Choices, I read true incidents of teens under peer pressure. A girl by the name of Katie Brule was invited to a party in which she initially declined to go to. After her friend persuaded her to go, she was then pressured to drink alcohol at the party. Before she knew it, she had already had a couple of beers and then the police showed up at the party. The officers gave her a breathalyzer test and showed she had been drinking and was arrested. If she only stood up to her friend and stayed home none of this would have happened. Now she has an arrest in her records, her license suspended, and she disappointed her family by doing something she should never have done. All of the negative consequences create a low self-esteem as well, thinking they have failed to do the right thing. One bad judgement can spiral into a negative outlook on your future. Some may think that taking risks is a good thing but on the contrary, taking risks that will result in a positive outcome is considered good. Risk taking when it involves  doing something illegal or can put yourself or someone else in danger is not a positive approach to risk taking.

The images shown above may be very graphic for some but unfortunately it is the result of underaged drinking. In one picture we see a before and after picture of Jacqui Saburido and in the other picture we see Jacqui and Reggie side by side. Jacqui was 20 years old at the time and had a whole life ahead of her, she came to the United States from Venezuela in 1999 to study English. She had only been in the United States for a month and decided to go to a birthday party with a group of her friends. After the birthday party was over, the group of friends all were heading back to their homes when tragedy struck. A vehicle driven by Reggie Stephey struck their car and two of Jacqui’s friends were killed. The vehicle was engulfed in fire and Jacqui was stuck inside and she had 2nd and 3rd degree burns all over her body. Reggie was 18 at the time and had been drinking heavily at a party before he hit the road driving. Reggie was a senior in high school and a star athlete. He received 20 years in prison and Jacqui received a life taken away from her. As a parent, this story is heartbreaking for me to read. Parents need to monitor their children and check for any signs of alcohol consumption literally by checking their breaths for alcohol or if they have slur in their speech. Parents need to know who their friends are and communicate with their friends and their friends parents as well.

I saw a video on News12 Long Island where a Bayshore teen was accused of driving under the influence and was trying to get away from the police. Any alcohol or drugs in your system will impair your judgement. The teen thought he could get away and not be caught but eventually crashed his car and he and the passenger had injuries. Not only does the teen put himself and the passenger in harms way but he also could have killed an innocent person while he was trying to escape.

Another negative outcome of peer pressure is sexual activity among teens. Teens may feel pressured to having sex with their partners for fear that they would not go out with them if they don’t go to the next level in their relationship. As a result of sexual activity there comes teen pregnancy. Pregnancy is a tremendous stress in a teens life; just when they should be having fun and thinking about colleges they have to think about bringing a baby into the world. These teens are probably not ready for such responsibility and their whole future will change as a result of this. In a recent article I read on the Long Island Report, a study shows that teen pregnancy has dropped significantly from 1,273 pregnancies in 2003 to 717 pregnancies in 2012 and 678 pregnancies in 2014. Although teen pregnancy has dropped significantly, we still see 678 pregnancies  that occurred just two years ago.

I have a very close friend that has a teenage boy who is now 18 years old. My friend has struggled to control her 18-year-old for quite some time now. She moved to a new town about seven years ago and her son fell into the wrong crowd. Every time he got into trouble it seemed like he did it to get his friends’ attention. Literally everyday she would get telephone calls from her son’s school of an incident that happened in school that day. She never accepted the problem and blamed the school for his wrong doings. Initially I tried to tell her to punish him and create household rules that he would need to follow but she never did. She found pot in her son’s room and thought nothing of it. She protected him to the point where her son always thought that he could get away with things. The school tried to expel him, but my friend fought to keep him in school until he recently graduated. He turned 18 right before graduation and now is considered an adult. He was arrested shortly after graduation for drug possession, and my friend had to deal with lawyers and the courts. He pleaded not guilty. She tells me that she regularly checks his room and eliminates anything that shouldn’t be in his room; she once found a large amount of cash. I asked her if he is selling drugs and she just replied “I don’t know, I hope not”. He once took her credit card and charged about $3,000 on merchandise. Child protective services once came to their house with a search warrant and searched the whole house, and they found a vile of pot and her son said that it was not his but it was his brothers. The drugs and alcohol has completely impaired his thinking and he reverts to lying to cover himself. I’ve lost track of all of the recent incidents and some she does not even confide in me anymore due to embarrassment or denial. I hope they all get the help they need to control the situation before something happens that cannot be overturned. I wanted to share this story and bring attention to what my friend could have possibly done to prevent what she’s been experiencing with her son. According to an article published by Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter, parents need to have regular conversations with their teens, talk to them on how to deal with peer pressure and possibly monitor their cell phones and computer use. The article also mentions that parents should educate themselves with drug slang words such as “dime bag” which is any drug that is worth $10 or “crunked” which means to get high and drunk at the same time. “Candy flipping” is another slang term which means LSD or acid with Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) or ecstasy. There are many other slang drug terms that can easily be found on the internet, such as 420, bud, buzzed, crank and danked. Parents need to pay close attention when their children are speaking with others and be on the lookout for these slang terms.

Teens often make such quick decisions that they are not thought out or calculated by any consequences that they may endure. In the article “The Science of Decision Making and Peer Pressure”, psychologist Laurence Steinberg, conducted a study of the risks teens take while driving. His study showed that when they are driving alone, they do not take any risks such as passing the light when yellow. When teens are driving with their friends they are more susceptible to passing yellow traffic lights. This shows that they are trying to get their friends’ attention and to also show them that they are possibly “cool.” One way to prepare yourself for negative peer pressure and avoid it is to mentally prepare yourself for an unwanted situation to happen. Remind yourself of the negative consequences that can occur so you don’t feel pressured or trapped into making an impulse decision.

A few weeks ago my daughter’s friends were over my house, and I asked them if they would allow me to ask them a few questions about peer pressure and their thoughts on the issue, and they agreed to chat with me. I decided to make it an informal interview and have a group discussion. The interview included my daughter and three of her friends. I started my interview with asking if any of them have ever been negatively pressured into doing something they didn’t want to do and they all answered no. My next question was if any of them has ever seen someone being pressured into doing something they did not want to do, and a couple of the kids answered no, but a couple of them said that they did witness some sort of pressure on someone else. I asked them if they would elaborate on what happened. One of my daughter’s friends is a year older and recently graduated from high school. She went to prom with a group of her friends and then there was an after party that they also went to. The after party was consumed with kids drinking and partying. My daughter’s friend said that most of the group was not interested in drinking and ended up waiting for the couple of kids that stayed in their limousine that they rented. Since the majority of the group was not interested in drinking, it was easier to not feel pressured to stay at the after party and she was relieved. I ended my interview with asking if there is a lot of social pressure to look a certain way and they all responded yes. Teens especially girls, are trying to look a certain way by putting on makeup or wearing expensive clothing. Many seniors also drive to school to show off their expensive cars. At the end of my interview, I realized even more that my daughter is a very bright person who is has chosen friends who are independent and do not rely on what other people think of them. It is always a good thing to know what your children are doing and constantly ask them questions on what is going on in their daily lives. This will enable you to have a better relationship with your child and possibly be able to detect any signs that your child may be struggling with something that is bothering them.

Negative peer pressure as we have discussed can affect a teen to have low self-esteem, drinking and doing drugs, sexual activity and eating disorders. We only want what’s best for our children, for them to be happy and be good examples to others. We as parents need to continue to guide them in the right path and hope they make the right decisions and choose the right friends. It is also good to see celebrities reaching out to our teens about their struggles to show them they are not alone.  Unfortunately peer pressure will always be present, we just need to make sure our children do not succumb to it. I know all of my daughters friends as well as her friends parents and make it a point to have their phone numbers on hand. Although we need to trust them and give them their independence, I do not take chances that something may go wrong and I am left in the dark. If she is going to a party, I remind her ahead of time to be conscious of her surroundings and not to drink anything that someone pours for her without seeing it. It’s not easy to be a parent in this generation but we all have to educate ourselves using the internet and investigate what type of drugs are out there and learn their slang terms.

Works Cited

“The Science Of Decision Making And Peer Pressure.” Scholastic Scope 64.6 (2016): 30-31. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Fanning, Karen. “PEER PRESSURE. (Cover Story).” Scholastic Choices 19.2 (2003): 6. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

“Bay Shore teen accused of driving high, evading police.” News12 Long Island, 23 May 2016, http://longisland.news12.com/news/bay-shore-teen-accused-of-driving-high-evading-police-1.11829855.

“3 Found Unconscious, Homeowner Charged at Great Neck Underage Drinking Party.” Eyewitness News, abc7NY, 31 August 2016,

http://abc7ny.com/news/3-found-unconscious-at-great-neck-underage-drinking-party-/1492612/

Xiang, Mia. “Teen Pregnancy Rates Decline On Long Island” Long Island Report, October 26, 2014. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

http://longislandreport.org/features/teen-pregnancy-rates-decline-on-long-island19260/19260

https://www.health.ny.gov/statistics/chac/birth/b13.htm

I CHOOSE PEOPLE. “Demi Lovato Talks About Eating Disorder” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 30 May 2013. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

“Teen Drug Use And The Internet: A Parent’s Guide.” Brown University Child & Adolescent Behavior Letter 23.8 (2007): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

“Socially transmitted anorexia: Peer pressure drives eating disorders, study finds.” Fox News Health (2012): Web. 11 Dec. 2016.

Colleary, Melissa. “LIAAC to Host SAMHSA Town Hall Meeting about Underage Drinking Prevention” LIAAC, August 23, 2016. Web. 11 Dec. 2016

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