Peer pressure can be good or bad. Good peer pressure may push us to conform to a higher standard than we otherwise might not have reached. Bad pressure on the other hand may push us to do something we feel is morally wrong. This pressure comes in many different forms. Some are subtle while some are not. It may be expressed through looks and comments, or through actions such as ignoring a person or even ostracizing him. Sometimes peer pressure is enforced with the threat and fear of violence.
Peer pressure exists because individuals within a group wish to maintain a certain standard to which all the members of the group will conform. Without this conformity, there will be no longer be a group since the members will no longer have a common identity.
IN WHAT WAYS DOES PEER PRESSURE AFFECT US?
In the way we dress-; For example, a conventional business man wears a suit and a tie. If he turned up at the office one day without a tie, people will look at him as if he were undressed. Among our friends and associates, there is pressure to wear a certain kind of clothing. May be jeans with a particular label or a certain kind of footwear. We may feel uncomfortable being different from those we regard as our peers.
There is pressure to use a certain kind of language or to hold certain opinions in order to be accepted. This is where we are most challenged. Do we remain silent because we are afraid to contradict the views of our peers? How can we keep our integrity and not end up feeling one thing, saying another and doing still another.
The global community-; Governments are put under pressure by other governments to conform to certain universally accepted standards of human rights and international law. The government also needs to consider public opinion for fear of losing people's trust and in the long run power.
GOOD PEER PRESSURE
Good peer pressure helps to maintain the society. The members of every community are expected to behave in certain ways. Within a community, people are expected to treat their neighbours in a certain way without being told, reminded or asked to do so. For example, if a family tuned their radio volume very high from midnight to three in the morning, their neighbours will pressure them not to behave in such a selfish manner by may be calling the police. This is one of the ways that peer pressure is good because they keep people from acting as they please in ways that harm the community. Without such good pressure to behave in a certain way, society will disintegrate into complete anarchy.
BAD PEER PRESSURE
Sometimes, we may feel pressured by friends or associates to conform by doing or saying things we know to be wrong. We may be expected to smoke, drink, to behave in a certain way, to treat others disrespectfully or to keep quiet when we know that something wrong is going on. Bad pressure is asserted by people who are insecure. They know that what they are doing is wrong, but they feel that if they can persuade others to behave in the same way or implicate others in their bad activities, they will feel justified. A person who refuses to play along is seen as a threat because he has chosen to be different.
Although people from all age brackets deal with peer pressure, it is felt especially strongly by young people. It is a challenging time for them and important decisions have to be made which will affect them for the rest of their lives.
HOW DO I HANDLE PEER PRESSURE?
1. Know yourself, who you are and your values.
2. Be determined to maintain your integrity and self respect.
3. Recognize what is happening when you are being pressured, it becomes easier to resist peer pressure.
4. When you feel you are being pressured to do something you are not secured about, take time to think about your true feelings and beliefs.
5. Consider what will be the consequences of your action if you fall for pressure.
6. Try to be honest with yourself and others about your feelings.
7. Talk to someone you feel close to for example your parents, brother, sister, relative or teacher.