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Peer Pressure in Gang Violence

Peer group pressure is a major problem for teens now days, caused by pressure require by others and their wanting to fit into certain groups. The negative peer group is being named by the society as gangs. Adolescents associated with these groups feel they gained prestige. Nevertheless, not all peer group pressure has negative influence, like academic and athletic achievement. (Ayres & Nalebuff, 2005)

Based on studies, most teens/adolescents think that joining a group gives them popularity with their peers. The average teen feels pressure either from the school, peers, or parents; thus enticing the need to belong to groups. Oftentimes, they get involved in violence, alcohol or drugs users, and sex. Studies will prove that high school students give more time with their friends than with parents or other influential adults. Teenagers who get involved with delinquent friends shun themselves away from good or straight kids and choose to fit in to their own kind. Nowadays, majority of families are headed by single parents, most of them mothers, who work extra jobs. Single parent are spending little time with their teens, thus leaving them victim to peer group pressure. Research shows that peer group pressure may lead to delinquent behavior among teenagers, which includes criminal acts such as motor vehicle theft, burglary, and robbery and others (Cabot, M. (2007).

Peer pressure can manipulate a person into smoking, drinking, or doing drugs and other things that is harmful to his/her body. Nevertheless, peer pressure can also be supportive by influencing someone to do the right thing instead of wrong. For instance, a person can be a model to his/her friends and let them know he/she wants to do right and he/she wants to change how he/she acts or what he/she was like. Some people struggle because they are depressed by what they have done or what people done to hurt their feelings in the past (Healey, J. 2007).

Peer Pressure is said to be responsible for teenagers’ behaviors starting from choice in clothing to drug usage. A study shows that the outcome of peer pressure on teenagers’ behavior may be highly overestimated. This study was published in Addiction (Vol. 91, No. 2), adds to a increasing body of research that implies peer pressure is a weaker factor in adolescent behavior than many had believed. Much emphasis is not given on peer pressure, don’t discuss or do not look hard for evidence of other factors. Going back and try to critically examine the importance of peer pressure. Researchers did studies over a twenty year span to find that peer pressure was easily blamed for teenage behavior but never examined. Other issues such as family life, economic background, environment, and biological tendencies all may be as important as or even more important than peer pressure in determining behavior. Teenagers who smoke tends to choose peers who smoke as friends and children with the same habits have a tendency to hang together. Peer pressure can be least factor in the use of drugs and other habits related to adolescent life, but nonetheless peer pressure is a factor that influences drug use among teenagers.

From ages twelve to nineteen is a stage in a teenager’s life that determines what kind of adult he or she will become. This stage of adolescence, known as the formative years, is the subject of deeper study and research to establish why adolescents are vulnerable to the phenomenon called peer pressure. Disturbing number of incidents of teenage drug use, pregnancy and teenage suicide is the best reason to fuel the need for such research. Probably because as children they are taught the importance of having and maintaining friends or maybe they don’t feel that they can talk to their parents or teachers when problems arise. Or perhaps simple reason as wanting to rebel against the pressures placed on them as youths. Because adolescents spend their time either at home or in school, it is within these confines that the answers to adolescents’ behavior lay. In other words, family and school can sometimes cause adolescents to give in to peer pressure because of an overemphasis on the importance of social adjustment, a lack of interest or communication on the part of the parents and teachers, and the unrealistic expectations that these entities create.

Even if the reason for attending school is to receive an education, it also gives children with a medium through which they can develop relationships with other children that eventually turn into friendships. Their capability in forming friendships can be traced back to even the pre-school years and its importance emphasized by eager parents who want their children to fit in at school. Interactions with friends or other peers are crucial for the development of a mature morality. Almost all would agree that social interaction is essential but at times parents are guilty of over-stressing this importance. For Example, the birthday parties where every child in the neighborhood was invited to come regardless of whether or not they were actual friends. The need to socialize children also happens in the classroom at school. The classroom represents not only an educational ground but a powerful social context in which the psychological adjustment of children and adolescents can be influenced. Teachers promote social interaction by assigning exercises that necessitate working in pairs or groups. Besides, when a teacher notice a child playing alone, they will persuade him or her to join the other children failing to notice the possibility that the child might have preferred to be alone. Therefore, from an early age, children are taught to value the importance of social interaction and this value remains in them as they move into the adolescent years. Result of which is that adolescents value their friendships deeply and in some cases more so than their relationships with family members. This accounts for the adolescent not being able to deny their friends for fear of losing the bonds that they have formed and is the cause of their greater vulnerability to peer pressure.

Having experienced peer pressure, during my adolescent years in order to fit in, because it’s not easy being the only one doing something different. Oftentimes, I feel worried I’ll be picked on if I don’t go with the crowd, or I lose my friends. Other times I do stuff because I think my friends will like me more, or because my gangs are doing it, so it seems normal. Both close friendships and wider friendship groups have provided opportunities for me to join them, and that was to smoking. Until I realized that I was into smoking for a longer period of time and hard to quit.

But I asked myself if I was doing what I really think is right or just giving in to my peer’s pressure to impress my friends and my gang. But as I grow older, I was faced with some challenging decisions. Some of them don’t have a clear right or wrong answer. Meaning I don’t really know if what I was doing was really good for me. I realized that making decisions on my own was hard enough, but when people got involved and tried to pressure me one way or another, it was even harder. People, who were my age, like classmates and gangs. They tried to influence how I act, to get me to do something I do not really want to do. But because I want to stay in the gang, I was pressured to do things and sometimes overdo them to impress my gang.

The peer pressure during my adolescent years was really something I had to deal with, maybe even adults too.

I underwent a peer mentoring program, which matches older youths with younger ones. The former provide the latter with guidance, advice, and all forms of support I need to be able to meet challengers of my adolescent life. The older youth do not only serve as mentors but as role models to the younger ones like me. They were not perfect but having been through the same stage and most likely, the same problems, predicaments, and challenges in their homes, school and community; they are in the position to provide friendly advice, positive influences, attention and moral support to me and other younger teens.

I learned to choose my friends wisely. Focus on developing firm friendships with people with the same values and ideas like me. Even having one friend who will back me up when I want to go against the group will help. I learned to be strong and just go with what I know is right. Good friends respect my individuality and I stood up for what I believe in and learned to respect myself more.

Giving in to peer pressure tapers off later in life. If adolescents realize that social interaction is important but only to a certain point, then they will have the strength to say no to their friends. Similarly, if parents and teachers somehow found a way to better communicate with their children and students respectively, these adolescents would most likely come to share their feelings with them and not rely so much on their peers for feedback. (Havelin, K. 2000) And lastly, if parents and teachers became aware of the unrealistic expectations they place on teenagers, the result would be a decrease in conflict as well as a decrease in the number of adolescents who feel the need to rebel through conformity to peer pressure. In other words, examining the ways in which family and school cause adolescents to give in to peer pressure leads to a resolution of the causes. What is the overall result? Adolescents have a healthier sense of the meaning of friendships, they have an alternative other than peers to whom they can turn to and they are freed from any unrealistic expectations that they themselves can’t understand. But most importantly, they become less susceptible to the traps of peer pressure, thereby, giving in to peer pressure is narrow (Kaplan, 1983).

Learning about human development should give you a deeper understanding of the many different pathways humans can take as they grown and develop through the lifespan. It is important to understand child life from the child’s point of view. This means understanding how the way we see and make sense of the world is affected by cognitive-developmental factors. The same applies to understanding adolescents and adults or all ages. Physical, cognitive and social capacities are intertwined. A change in how we understand the world has implications for how we interact with others which in turn has an impact on physical development. Conversely, playing games provides experiences with groups that foster new understandings about the physical and social universe. Development is profoundly affected by social context (culture and social institutions). Our beliefs about the nature of development – what is normal and what is not normal – are anchored in a particular social, historical and cultural context. Understanding human development can help you better understand your own life experiences and life course. It can foster enhanced self-understanding and personal growth. Beneficial societal change is possible and individuals and groups can change social institutions and policies for the better. Understanding human development deeply and in context can help us better appreciate human wisdom and human fallibility. This, in turn, can help us become more creative, innovative and effective teachers.

Peer pressure can be described as a positive or negative reaction that occurs when one is influenced by certain people or peers. Peer pressure is constantly surrounding us. One can first be introduced to peer pressure at a very young age and young people can be influenced easier then mature adults. I believe family members, friends and religious institutions have the strongest influence of peer pressure on society. But from past experiences, friends have the strongest influence on teenagers. With the proper guidance and right choice of friends, one will not have any trouble with life’s difficult decisions, and will hopefully, do the right thing.

Ayres, I., & Nalebuff, B. (2005). Peer Pressure. FORBES. 175 (7), 118-118.

Cabot, M. (2007). Pants on fire. New York: HarperTeen.

Havelin, K. (2000). Peer pressure: how can I say no? Perspectives on relationships. Mankato,

Minn: LifeMatters

Healey, J. (2007). Peer pressure. Thirroul, N.S.W.: Spinney Press.

Kaplan, L. S. (1983). Coping with peer pressure. New York: Rosen Pub. Group. Hersch, P.

(1998). A tribe apart: a journey into the heart of American adolescence. New York: Fawcett Columbine.

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