LaRue Co High School Student

You goggle at the pint of Bourbon poised in your friend’s out stretched hand. The chants of your friends grow progressively louder, quickening in speed. “Chug it, chug it!” they scream, pounding their fists on the counter. You know it is an illegal act, though your need to fit in exceeds the possibility of legal repercussions. Reluctantly, you take the bottle in hand.

As a high school student you have undoubtedly encountered or have felt the influence of peer pressure, not necessarily to the extreme of the above anecdote.  Peer pressure comes in many forms, some good and some not so good, ranging from inspiration that changes your life to a momentary act that has little impact. Peer pressure is normal, a necessary and inevitable interaction between people that influences self-identity and development. There are many debated reasons for peer pressure. The most common are: lack of brain development, and the unquenchable need for independence and acceptance.

On The Daily

 

 

 

 

People influence one another through both intentional and unintentional actions. A survey of LaRue County high school students show that 75% believe peer pressure is when one’s actions or thoughts are swayed by a peer in a way that inspires an action or thought the person many have otherwise not found wise, or would have not acted upon. As long as people interact, peer pressure is unavoidable, as each student has their own opinions and make their own decisions based upon prior experience. Beyond that, outside influences are how we attain knowledge. The catalog of experience we gather thought our life matures us, shaping us into the individuals we are.  Someone of younger age may be more susceptible to peer pressure for a myriad of reasons. For example, those entering high school may feel a strong influence from those around them. Being in new surroundings young students are more vulnerable to the impact of outward influences. In contrast, older high school students, who have been in high school for two or more years, tend to have a strong sense of self. Additionally, as survey of LaRue County students shows that years of experience with high school allows older students to stick to their views, not be easily swayed, and to deny temptation.

 

 

Your Brain

As every individual goes through a series of stages of development, they can only know that which they have experienced. The development of the brain directly corresponds with behavior, and is effected by prior knowledge. We learn from failure, improving with time, through trial and error. Adolescents’ endearingly quirky behavior, willingness to take part in risky behavior, and susceptibility to peer pressure can be explained by the way the brain develops. Your brain does not completely mature until the age of 25, developing from back to front. In fact, the part of the brain that controls: decision making, impulse, and reasoning ­- known as the Prefrontal Cortex- is located, as the name suggests, in the front of the brain, thus, maturing last. The natural process has vast effects on teens, including but not limited to: difficulty controlling emotions, a preference for physical activity, a preference for high excitement and low effort activities (video games, sex, drugs, etc.), poor planning and judgment, or ,in other words, rarely thinking of negative consequences, and lastly, more risky, impulsive behaviors, including experimenting with drugs and alcohol. (Drugfree.org, Treatment Research Institute)Teens force their poorly thought-out, highly irrational thoughts upon each other allowing our underdeveloped brains to disregard consequences and fulfill reckless behavior, therefore, giving into peer pressure.

A Need for Acceptance

 

 Additionally, as students gain years they feel the need to become their own, leading them to uncover the world through personal experience. The desire to explore, including one’s self, can be influenced by others because they have not yet discovered the world. The lack of experience mixed with the need to explore leads students to make uneducated decisions. Peers empower one another, giving each other incentive to try new things. While some suggestions lead to productive findings, others lead to dismay and often have long term effects.

Independence

 

 The desire to acquire independence is coupled with the desire for acceptance by those students view as friends, or those closely surrounding us as peers.  When borne, we are given a family. The people we choose from our surrounding environment to connect with, have a tremendous impact on our decisions because we share similar interests and often similar fears. The unquenchable desire one needs to be accepted pushes individuals, especially students, to fall prey to peer pressure. Many students feel the need to do something out of their comfort zone to impress others to gain acceptance. Students may feel pressured to do recreational drugs, partake in sexual activity, or commit a crime to fulfill acceptance.

In a Nut Shell

 Though the brain of a high school student is still developing, so trust in your inner reasoning. If you are being pressured to do something you feel uncomfortable with make your own decision, true friends do not need an act to accept you. Your peers often enable you, helping you to find your independence, still peer pressure is not always to be followed. Peer pressure can be overcome. When peers pressure you to do something you find reckless or as having severe consequences, say “no.” No person but yourself is worth the risk. Stand up for yourself and your beliefs.

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