Peer Pressure

No matter how old they are, people care what others think and want to fit in. When you are just starting to make decisions for yourself, the influence of your friends and people your age - your peers - can be powerful. It can affect how you feel, dress, and act. Peer pressure is when your friends try to influence you to say or do something, even if you don't want to. You feel you need to do it so you can stay friendly with them.

Peer pressure can be positive and negative. Positive pressure from your peers might lead you to play sports, study hard or join clubs. Negative pressures might lead you to make fun of someone, to tell a lie or cheat on a test. Sometimes the pressure may be about actions that have more serious results, such as skipping school, using drugs or alcohol, shoplifting, having sex before you are ready, or joining a gang.

It is important to think about what could happen if you go along with the crowd. Make up your own mind, even if your peers don't agree with you.

You have decisions to make everyday. Some decisions are more important than others. There is a big difference between deciding what to wear to a party and deciding whether or not to have sex with someone. The decisions you make say a lot about what kind of person you are. When you feel uncomfortable with what you are being asked to do, stop and talk to someone who will listen and believe you - your parents, another adult who cares or maybe a close friend you respect.

There are different kinds of peer pressure. It can seem like friendly teasing or it can be more forceful. Try these ways to handle peers pressure: change the subject, avoid the situation, have something else to do, leave or make it clear that you don't have to go along with other people to have a good time. When your peers see you stand by your decisions, it my help them to better deal with peer pressure.

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