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Peer Pressure

Take a look around the next time you’re in school, at cross-country practice, or at the movies with friends — the people you see around you make up your “peer group.” They’re the people you see just about every day. They’re sympathetic to your situation with the ’rents, teachers, and siblings because they’re going through the same things you are. Having a peer group means that you get to hang out with people who totally get you and, even better, give you some independence from adults.

A peer group can encourage you to do good things like help others, try new things, or just kick back. Who doesn’t love an afternoon of pizza and hanging out with pals? But your peers can just as easily try to make you do things that you would never normally do and could potentially harm you. When that happens, what can you do?

The easiest way to deal with peer pressure — the bad kind at least — is to avoid it altogether. Surround yourself with people you like, who like you, and who like doing things you like doing (things that won’t get you grounded for life), and you’ll be far less likely to become a victim of peer pressure. But there is more you can do.

Why is my bud trying to pressure me? I thought we were friends!

Chances are, your friend is caving in to the same pressure you feel. Your friend might not even notice how uncomfortable it’s making you. Next time you say ‘no,’ you can say something like, “I’ve already told you I don’t want to. I wish you would stop trying to get me to change my mind.” You can explain that you feel dissed when your friend steamrolls over your refusal.

Hopefully, she or he will apologize and stop. If not, you might want to give your friend a little space. It’s not worth it to hang around with people who don’t treat you well or respect you and your decisions.

It can be hard to go against the grain and resist social pressure. Here are some tips to make it easier.

Be prepared. Think through situations ahead of time. Plan how you’d say ‘no’ if someone offered you a cigarette, a drink, or a ride with someone who shouldn’t be driving. You can even practice saying them in the mirror. That way, if you find yourself in that situation and you barely have to think, you’ll come off cool and collected, and the folks who are pressuring you will be less likely to push back after you say no.

Avoid it. Try to avoid bad peer pressure by spending time with friends who don’t make you uncomfortable or try to get you to do things you don’t want to.

You can also avoid places where you feel uncomfortable. For example, if a teammate wants to meet in the parking lot to smoke before basketball practice, tell them you have something else to do, but you’ll see them when practice starts. If friends are hanging out at someone’s house before a dance—without any parents around—and you’re worried that they might be up to something, suggest grabbing something to eat at a restaurant. Or, tell them you’ll meet them at the dance.

Be proud. If someone’s trying to get you to do something you know you shouldn’t, or something that makes you feel nervous, say ‘no.’ And be proud that you’re being strong and doing what’s right for you. Stand up straight, make eye contact, and don’t be apologetic for your actions. Rather, you should feel good about what you are doing.

Be a good friend. Don’t ever put a friend in a situation where they feel bad about not wanting to do something that you might want to do. If someone’s trying to pressure your friend, help him or her stand up. You can say, “No thanks. We don’t do that,” or, “Sorry, we’re on our way to go to the mall.”

Stand up for what’s right.

Have you ever been in a situation where your friends started making cruel jokes about someone else at your school? Maybe it was someone who just didn’t seem to “fit in”, or someone with a physical or mental disability. Perhaps you were the one on the receiving end of the laughter.

Making fun of someone else isn’t cool. It hurts. It hurts the person being ridiculed because they’re being rejected for who they are. It hurts the person dishing out the abuse because it lowers his or her character. And it hurts the heart of God who made each person in His own image.

You can be the one who steps in to stop the laughter. If your friends start picking on someone else, speak up and change the conversation or defend the person who’s being ridiculed. Standing by and saying nothing is as good as joining the others.

Remember – speaking up for the Sanctity of Life includes respecting the dignity of every human being regardless of skin color, weight, or other physical or mental traits. Resolve to stand up for others and go against the flow. Those who desperately need a friend will never forget you.

Why do the people who pressure me care if I say yes or not?

Sometimes we discover things, and they’re so cool we want our friends to share them with us — like how your friends might rave about a new book or sport. Sometimes, though, if friends are doing something they know they shouldn’t be doing, they might want other people to go along so they don’t feel so bad. There is usually safety in numbers, but in this case, there isn’t. Six people can get just as hooked on cigarettes, or in as much trouble with their parents, as one person can.

Do the Smart Thing

To do the smart thing when your pals are pressuring you, look at both sides and weigh your options. Your friends may make a convincing case to skip class. But what if you miss a pop quiz? And then your parents find out? Is it worth ruining your grade and getting in trouble with your parents?

You should also realize that what you do may affect someone else in ways you never thought possible. Skipping out on your chores to hang with your friends seems fun, but what if your mom’s friend slips on the wet leaves you didn’t rake and takes a bad fall? Before you go along with the will of the crowd, ask yourself: What can go wrong? Can something good come out of this? Knowing when and how to say ‘no’ will help you to back out when your buds are trying to convince you to do something that could get you busted.

Peer Pressure: How to deal with it and stand up for what’s right!
by Emily Snipes, PEERS Project, Area School Coordinator

Peer pressure is all around you. As a teenager you want to fit in and be part of the majority. Look at your friends. Are you wearing your hair the same way or maybe have the same brand of clothes on? Even if you don’t, I’m sure you enjoy the same things and that’s why you’re friends. your peers are one of the greatest influences in your life, but they can also be the quickest to pressure you into something you don’t want to do. Whether a friend wants you to give them answers on a test or smoke after school, the decision is all yours. If you’re in control, then they can’t be, so you have to be assertive.

Being assertive means doing what you want to do, not what someone else wants you to do. Trust me, peers will look up to you, rather than give you a hard time if you express your own opinions. There are several ways to get out of a sticky situation. Tell the person no and don’t back down. If they still keep pressuring you, use the words “I feel” and “Why” to respond and take the offensive. For example, “Why do you keep pressuring me when I told you I don’t want to? I feel like you’re not listening to me.” if they still don’t back down or respect your wishes, refuse to discuss the matter further and, if needed, remove yourself from that situation.

Doesn’t sound easy, does it? Sometimes it’s best to know ahead of time what your values and beliefs are and to express them often to friends and peers. If they know where you stand, they are less likely to pressure you to join in, and may even feel compelled to model your positive example.

For Guys Only

You’ve heard it before — character is who you are when no one else is watching.

Like what type of web sites you visit when you’re on your own. Or how you show respect for your date when it’s just the two of you. It’s who you are deep inside.

Character is important. It’s important to people all around you, to future employers, and to your future spouse. That’s why it’s important to consider these four tips on building up your character.

  1. Set your standards high. Determine what is right and what is wrong before you face situations that will test your standards.
  2. Avoid compromising situations. Don’t allow yourself to get into situations where you know you’ll be tempted to bend your standards.
  3. Choose friends wisely. Let’s face it — if you hang with the wrong crowd it will drag you down every time.
  4. Be accountable. Find someone who shares your high standards and ask them to hold you accountable. Ask them to look you in the eye and ask the tough questions.

It’s not always easy. But in the end you’ll never regret being a man of character.

Think About It.

So how do you say no? It can be tough to stand up for yourself, but there are some things you can do to make it less stressful. Keep a truthful excuse in mind for these times, like “I’ve got to climb Mount Algebra before my favorite TV show tonight,” or “I’m just off of being grounded and don’t want to get thrown back in the cell,” or “My parents promised to buy me new duds if I don’t get in trouble before the spring dance.” Keep in mind that you don’t always have to explain yourself. Sometimes a simple “No, thanks — I gotta jet” is plenty.

Taking risks can seem really fun and exciting — and some risks can be good for you. The trick is to take those chances that teach you something new or make you a better person. So, instead of breaking into an abandoned house, suggest learning to rock climb or playing a game of golf. All it usually takes is one person to make a good suggestion — people will fall in line and join in the real fun.