“Come on! ALL of us are cutting math. Who wants to go take that quiz? We’re going to take a walk and get lunch instead. Let’s go!” says the coolest kid in your class. Do you do what you know is right and go to math class, quiz and all? Or do you give in and go with them?
As you grow older, you’ll be faced with some challenging decisions. Some don’t have a clear right or wrong answer — like should you play soccer or field hockey? Other decisions involve serious moral questions, like whether to cut class, try cigarettes, or lie to your parents.
Making decisions on your own is hard enough, but when other people get involved and try to pressure you one way or another it can be even harder. People who are your age, like your classmates, are called peers. When they try to influence how you act, to get you to do something, it’s called peer pressure. It’s something everyone has to deal with — even adults. Let’s talk about how to handle it.
Defining Peer Pressure
Peers influence your life, even if you don’t realize it, just by spending time with you. You learn from them, and they learn from you. It’s only human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group.
Peers can have a positive influence on each other. Maybe another student in your science class taught you an easy way to remember the planets in the solar system or someone on the soccer team taught you a cool trick with the ball. You might admire a friend who is always a good sport and try to be more like him or her. Maybe you got others excited about your new favorite book, and now everyone’s reading it. These are examples of how peers positively influence each other every day.
Sometimes peers influence each other in negative ways. For example, a few kids in school might try to get you to cut class with them, your soccer friend might try to convince you to be mean to another player and never pass her the ball, or a kid in the neighborhood might want you to shoplift with him.
An addiction is an urge to do something that is hard to control or stop. If you use cigarettes, alcohol, or drugs like marijuana (weed), cocaine, and heroin, you could become addicted to them. They can really hurt you and could even kill you.