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Peer Pressure’s Effect on Highschoolers - Kaan Tombalak '23

Updated: Nov 15, 2022

Peer pressure has been the demise of many susceptible teens. Peer pressure is so versatile, it could even arise from just having the presence of another teen with them, and could have severely destructive consequences that come along with it. With this, I also conducted a fully anonymous survey in my own school and found out that more than half of the students had a tendency to fall victim to it. Mostly caused by the need to fit in, peer pressure can lead teens to serious injury or even death through the use of harmful substances by overdosing at the extreme and choosing riskier options when given with possibly lethal consequences.


Among many reasons one may feel peer pressure, the most influential and strong one is social acceptance, which depending on the character, tips the scale in the favor of dependence as opposed to independence. Belonging to a group turns out to be a comforting factor in human life, as a paper on the topic explains that to fit in, these people must carry the social and cultural values of the community as a whole. Fitting in also gets these people or in this case teenagers to give up their own ideas and traits. It can easily be deduced that belonging to a group or a community is something that people tend to crave and feel fear of being left out. They think they might get bullied or they might fail due to no help coming from their peers if they are left out, alone. This also is reinforced by these words in the same article, “One of the top 2 causes of stress is peer pressure. As a teenager you most likely have experienced feeling apart from the so called “popular” crowd and that hurts most people”. As clearly stated, one of the most main forms of stress is caused by peer pressure. The need of popular peers surrounding is unnecessary and people still find the need to stress about it. In conclusion, the main cause of peer pressure ends out to be the need of being in an influential and popular group that makes you feel like someone’s got your back.


A fully anonymous survey of my own conducted in my school with 47 respondents between the ages of 15-18 revealed that a slightly higher percentage of people do feel pressure of being left out of friend groups. Around 53.2 percent of respondents decided they would rather be in a friend group than not. However, an overpowering 89.4 percent of the votes indicated that most people would not change their opinion or ideas to be accepted. This means that despite a general trend about peer pressure, most students of my school did not follow this general idea in the sense of keeping their own opinions and not changing them.


The cause of peer pressure makes it look a lot more innocent than it actually is, at times opening up paths to the use of harmful substances that can end up being lethal. Peer pressure has caused the increased use of these lethal substances by those who want to fit in as those who use it open paths and encourage those who don’t and have a negative effect on their lives. Especially when it comes to encouragement, it can be unavoidable, however the mere presence of peers is enough to tip the scales in usages favor, Nova Recovery Center says. Unfortunately, depending on how much they have taken, the consequences could be dangerous. Drugs and alcohol could end one's life if used unaccountably and overdosed, and yet, the presence of eyes watching without even any encouragement may push individuals to do what they have been told not to. This can further be extended to any harmful materials promotion in gangs, as illustrated in this piece “People get influenced easily when they join gangs. They start drinking, smoking, taking drugs and doing all kinds of negative activities. For them, it is fun doing such things because they are in a gang. They influence one another to do bad things.”. These gangs, or previously mentioned popular friend groups, influence those who want to fit in to be cool like them which includes the use of listed harmful materials, again destroying someone's life possibly forever or even ending it.


Students at my school were more cautious against harmful substances, according to my survey, with 78.7 percent of votes going to drugs being a no-go. Another 14.9 percent of students agreed that they would be inclined to use such substances with encouragement from friends. The rest of the votes showed that some teenagers would see the presence of friends enough to use such substances.


To wrap it up, the so-called gangs that cause peer pressure are a pathway to any sort of harmful substance there is and anyone who feels the need to join them is likely to follow suit to those who use it.


Not only does peer pressure promote the use of harmful substances but it also gives the tendency to choose a riskier option when given among teenagers. It is linked to the choosing of higher risk solutions when placed in a dilemma which can have destructive consequences. A study done by the National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that teenagers are more willing to take risks like running speed lights or drunk driving if they know their peers are watching. Again, peer pressure has caused the illegal actions of teenagers which is considered cool among them. The breaking of law is highly dangerous and punishable, yet teens every day do stuff like running a traffic light to be cool amongst their friends and having something to brag about, yet it definitely is not something to brag about. It is not only putting your life at risk but most likely putting others’ lives at risk too. They take the chance to possibly kill someone or themselves, as stated here, “During the study, teens weren’t encouraged by friends to perform risky behaviors but did so anyway in many cases. The way participants calculated risk versus reward was shown to be the underlying cause of these decision”. The only reason for this risk is because they seem to find it to be quite rewarding even though I fail to see why that would be. Sure maybe it might make you less cool to obey traffic laws and any other law for that matter but it should be considered if it is worth ending your own or someone else's life and ending up in jail.


Of my own findings, this topic showed less resistance than the use of harmful substances with 61.7 of the respondents rejecting any reckless behaviour. Out of the rest, 29.8 percent of students did say that they would need encouragement to do such actions. However there is no denying that, encouragement or no encouragement, risky behaviours from teenagers are inevitable.


One of the worst parts is, again, no encouragement is needed in some cases to stray people from the right path and into risk taking. Just the presence of their peers is enough for them to threaten lives carelessly.


In conclusion, one of the causes of peer pressure is the need to fit in which ends up with many possible life threatening situations for both the one under pressure and any other people they might cross paths with. Those who are rather susceptible and get stuck in this loop cause consequences of the destructive kind and it should be prevented by any means necessary. After all, it is not agreeing to one another's ideas that make us important, but rather our own unique ones.


Bibliography

Webster, M. (2020). The Causes And Effects Of Peer Pressure. IPL. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.ipl.org/essay/The-Causes-And-Effects-Of-Peer-Pressure-F3SDWP7EAJP6


UKEssays. (November 2018). Peer Pressure And How It Affects Behaviour Philosophy Essay. Retrieved January 13, 2021, from https://www.ukessays.com/essays/philosophy/peer-pressure-and-how-it-affects-behaviour-philosophy-essay.php?vref=1


Karunaratne, S. (2021, November 25). Peer pressure and drug abuse: How strong is the link? Nova Recovery Center Near Austin Texas. Retrieved January 13, 2021, from https://novarecoverycenter.com/addiction/peer-pressure-and-drug-abuse-2/

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