Courtesy of APT Parenting

Peer pressure can be very trying for both, teens and their parents. It is difficult to deal with situations whereby you are forced to try something that you might not necessarily want to, fueled solely by the pressure of ‘fitting in’. This seems like a compulsion, because if you do not do what your peers demand of you, the fear of being alone is paramount. This is one of the main reasons for why people give in to peer pressure. If one observes the statistics of peer pressure, one will be convinced of this fact.

One can fall prey to peer pressure at anytime in their lives, however, it primarily affects adolescents and teens. This is because, most of them have not developed the ability to distinguish between what is right and what is wrong at their age. Thus, many teens fall under peer pressure and take to things that can only be termed as ‘bad habits’ in our society.

Statistical Figures

  • Studies were conducted by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2010 on students in the 8th, 10th, and 12th grades and it was found that they used alcohol more than cigarettes and marijuana. While 13.8% of 8th graders used alcohol, 7.1% used cigarettes, and 8.0% made use of marijuana. 28.9% of students in the 10th grade consumed alcohol, while 13.6% used cigarettes, and 16.7% used marijuana. In the 12th grade, 41.2% students consumed alcohol, whereas 19.2% students smoked cigarettes, and 21.4% students made use of marijuana.
  • In a survey conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in a paper titled?National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Volume I, 2009, the difference between the drinking styles and percentages of drinking between the genders was studied. The results showed that boys tend to drink more than girls, and the percentage of drinking in both sexes increases as their ages progress. Along with that, the styles of drinking was also studied. The results showed that both, boys and girls in the age group of 12-13 years drank 3.7% of alcohol, however, as the age bracket increased, the figures changed as well. In the ages between 14-15 years, the percentage of alcohol consumption increased to 11.4% in boys and 13.5% in girls. The percentage increased further still as the ages progressed. The consumption of alcohol between the ages of 16-17 years showed a steep increase, with boys drinking 28.3% alcohol and girls drinking 24.4% alcohol.
  • The practice of binge drinking was studied as a part of the same survey as well. It was seen that this practice was also greatly influenced by the age and gender. In the age group of 12-13 years, 1.8% of both, boys and girls took up binge drinking. The figures increased further for the age bracket of 14-15 years, with a slight difference between the drinking percentages of the genders. While 6.7% of the boys took up binge drinking, 6.8% of the girls took up the practice. The figures increased further in the age group of 16-17 years, where 18.8% boys took up binge drinking, whereas 14.9% of girls followed the practice.
  • In a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (2006), by 15 years of age, more than 50% of teens have had at least 1 drink. And by the age of 18, the figure increases to more than 70% teens who have had at least one drink.
  • In a study conducted by the National Survey on Drug and Alcohol Use (NSDUH) 2009, 10.4 million young individuals between ages 12-20 reported that they drank alcohol ‘beyond a few sips’. So also, 2.1 million young people had more than 5 drinks on the same occasion, more than 5 times in the same month.
  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol abuse leads to more than 4,300 deaths annually among underage youth.
  • In the paper, The Body: The Complete HIV/AIDS Resource, it was found that 33% of teen boys between the age group 15-17 feel pressured to have sex, whereas 23% of teen girls feel pressured to get into sexual relationships.
  • According to a study conducted by The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, 55% of teens confessed to having tried drugs for the first time because they felt pressurized by their friends to do the same.
  • According to the Canadian Lung Association, 70% of teens who actively smoke, said that they started smoking because their friends smoked, or because they felt the peer pressure to try smoking.
  • According to The Teen Driver Source, 19% of teens reported that they would discontinue using a cell phone while driving if their friends stopped as well.
  • 30% of teens are offered drugs in high school and middle school. (Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base)
  • 3.1 million American teens smoke. Of these, 25% of 17 and 18 year olds smoke daily. (American Lung Association)
  • The Kaiser Foundation states that nearly 50% of adolescents between the ages of 12-18 feel pressured into having sex in relationships.
  • Teens are infected by 4 million new STDs every year. (Allan Guttamacher Institute)
  • The National Household Survey states that the use of marijuana has risen by a staggering 275% from the years ’92-’97.
  • 9.5% teens have tried some form of cocaine in their lives. (Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base)
  • 32.2% teens try their first drink before the age of 13. (Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base)
  • 9% (14 years), 18% (15 – 17 Years), 22% (18 – 19 Years) of teens experience a pregnancy every year. (Communities Responding to the Challenge of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention)
  • 25% of teens have been involved in at least one episode of binge drinking. (The Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Teaching about the Dangers

Why is it important to teach students about the ill effects of peer pressure? And more so over, how does one go about teaching pre-teens and teens about the ill effects of giving in to peer pressure and the negative effects it can have on their life? By making children aware of peer pressure, you are actually helping them build the courage to say no. You are letting them know that peer pressure is wrong and that they have a choice in life. In the following section, we will take you through some of the peer pressure activities that you can carry out. This will help to ensure that your child does not become just another ‘statistic’ in the peer pressure statistics count. These activities can be easily carried out in the classroom, such that you can focus on a huge group of kids all at once.

Quiz the Children

Divide the kids into groups of 3-4. Then pass around a questionnaire with multiple choices or simple questions that they need to discuss and answer. For the questions, include varied scenarios like-‘If you see your friend drinking alcohol and he offers you some, what would you do? What is the right thing to do?’ Similarly, formulate other questions which are based around the topics that you need to educate the kids about, like, sex, drugs, stealing, cheating, and more. Then have them discuss the answers in groups. After that, let a representative come forward to discuss their conclusions. Discuss each point thoroughly so that it clears their ideas and drives the point home.

Having been an interactive class, it’ll have more of an effect. So also, since they themselves came up with the answers, it’ll be better received, instead of you having done the preaching.

Make it a Class Activity

Here’s how you turn the issue of peer pressure into something that becomes a positive thing. Declare that you are starting a positive peer pressure lesson for the class. Tell them that you are looking for students who represent positive peer pressure?they are supposed to help others in class by exerting a positive influence on them. For example, they tutor or point out against giving in to it. Let them know that the students who show this in action will be rewarded (like their names will be put up on board, they will be gifted something). This incentive will be very helpful and drive the students to take up the role of being a positive peer pressure ‘influence’.

Open Communication

In addition to carrying out these plans in a classroom scenario, it is also important that parents are actively involved in their children’s life. This will prevent the effects of peer pressure from affecting the child. In order for this to happen, the parents need to adopt the tool of open communication. The best way to ensure that this happens is to talk to your child and be actively involved in their life. Knowing who their friends are, as well as the parents of the child, also helps. Talking to them about their issues and problems will also give the strength to handle peer pressure effectively well.

These peer pressure statistics are meant to act as a warning sign for parents and children. Having a realistic knowledge of what is happening in society might help one become alert and probably not give in to these pressures. The statistics that we see today cannot be taken as a positive sign. There needs to be an immediate action taken to ensure that these do not increase. This can only happen if you are aware of the situation and take the efforts to educate your children in turn.