Conforming to or resisting social groups is a challenge for most teenagers. Negative peer pressure can lead to self-destructive actions and choosing negative life paths. Teens will experiment and test parental and societal limits. Those who are exposed to positive influences and have acquired the skills for making good judgments will be able to gain autonomy without succumbing to peer influences.
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Indirect Peer Pressure
Indirect peer pressure dictates social norms, both positively and negatively. Indirect peer pressure is a social and generational vibe that defines what is "cool" or "in." Cliques at school, brand-name products, television shows and the Internet contribute to indirect peer pressure. For example, If the popular crowd consists of individuals who are earning good grades and are active in sports or clubs, teens will emulate these behaviours to fit in. However, if the "cool kids" drinking, using drugs and skipping school, other teens may choose to participate in order to fit in.
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Positive Peer Pressure
Positive peer pressure helps teens make good decisions as individuals and as a group. Teens support each other by providing encouragement in academic and athletic endeavours. Teenagers can also influence each other to confront and resolve issues, such as bullying. A bully is less likely to attack a group, or an individual who is part of a group. Examples of activities and actions that promote positive peer influence and positive self-esteem are: participating in sports, joining a club, volunteering for community projects and events, earning good grades, meeting new people, finding a part-time job and being honest and responsible.
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Negative Peer Pressure
Every teenager will eventually be exposed to negative peer pressure. Teenagers who want to fit in and find acceptance within a group are more likely to give-in to negative peer pressure. Some teens give in simply out of curiosity to try something new that everyone appears to be doing. Teenagers with low self-esteem are more likely to become involved in dangerous and illegal activities. Examples of activities and actions resulting from negative peer pressure are: using drugs and alcohol, writing graffiti and vandalising property, shoplifting, ditching school, committing suicide, being racist or bullying, being persuaded to have sex when not ready and becoming pregnant because other teens are pregnant and receiving attention.
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Minimising Peer Influences
Parental involvement reduces the effects peer pressure has on an individual teen. Teenagers with loving and supportive parents have the confidence needed to combat negative peer pressure influences. Parental involvement includes teaching teens how to make good decisions when confronted with negative influences. A teenager who clearly understands parental expectations will be able to make positive choices and rational judgments. Sudden and drastic changes in friends, grades, attitude and behaviours will be noticed by parents who are active in their child's life.