Peer Influence: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly This Is A Research Paper On Peer Influence On Middle School Students

1387 words - 6 pages

"Everyone needs to belong -- to feel connected with others and be with others who share attitudes, interests, and circumstances that resemble their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in a favorable light." (Lebelle, 1999).Middle school is a tough time. There are numerous changes occurring internally and externally amongst children in this age group. Boys and girls are maturing physically at rapid paces, but their emotional maturation is a lot slower. This can cause problems. Most young adolescents desire adult treatment, because they are beginning to look like adults, but, on the inside, they are still easily influenced children. Teens are desperate to fit in with their peers at school and will go to extremes to do so. This can be good and bad.Positive peer influence can "encourage such desirable qualities as truthfulness, fairness, cooperation, and abstinence form drugs and alcohol." (Ormrod). On the other hand, negative peer influence can "encourage aggression, criminal activity, and other antisocial behaviors" (Ormrod). Illegal drug and alcohol use, promiscuity, bullying, and loss of identity can all result from negative peer pressure. Teachers need to be educated about these things. They need to know what occuring outside of their classrooms is in order to make a difference inside their classrooms.Cliques play a key role in both positive and negative peer influence. Depending on which clique a child belongs to, he could become an honor student who never tries drugs or alcohol or he could become an alcohol or drug abuser, a bully, or he could become promiscuous which could lead to STD's or teen parenting. There is a hierarchy when it comes to cliques. The popular kids are at the very top. These students are usually nice-looking, well-dressed, and involved with athletics and clubs. Those things are all well and good, but sometimes, the popular kids are also into partying with drugs and alcohol."A child who reaches age 21 without smoking, abusing alcohol or using drugs is virtually certain never to do so" (Lebelle, 1999). Unfortunately, that rarely happens. Most girls have tried alcohol by age thirteen and most boys have tried it by age eleven. The average American begins drinking regularly at age fifteen. That means that the majority of middle school children have already experimented with alcohol. Many cases of adolescent drinking are linked to pressure from peers. That is why it is important for parents and teachers to encourage their children and students to disassociate themselves from peers who drink. Young adolescents will be less likely to begin drinking or smoking if they steer clear from cliques that do not drink or smoke and if they are taught by their parents to stay away from alcohol, tobacco, and drugs.Even if a child is encouraged from the start to resist drugs and alcohol, he can still become involved with these deadly toxins. Sometimes, the desire to conform to a certain image is just too strong....

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