No to Conformity, Yes to Indepedence!

April 29, 2011
Isn’t it easier to just follow the crowd? If you follow the crowd, no harm, no foul. Well, all students know about peer pressure. There’s the negative peer pressure that begins when one teenager convinces another that stealing a car would be “awesome” and there’s the positive peer pressure that motivates young teens to do the right thing. Although there are obvious pros and cons to both sides, peer pressure is wrong and results in suppressing creativity and ideas.

Peer pressure results in negative circumstances; it can also lead teens to be unable to think for themselves. A study at Yale University stated, “Peer pressure is a major issue among teenagers especially. It makes children do all the wrong things even if they do not want to. One of the reasons for crime of late in this age group is also peer pressure…Teens need to think for themselves…”

Peer pressure controls the low self-esteem of young minds and results in the ruination of a teenager’s self worth. The Ohio School Study Team says, “A child’s low self esteem and low confidence are the biggest reasons coming under peer pressure. Many feel they will not be accepted unless they blend right into the crowd…”

Blending right into the crowd is dangerous, especially during a student’s middle school and high school years. Not being able to speak for yourself results in disastrous situations for individuals in the future, leading them down the wrong path that suppresses their own individual thoughts.

The Yale study has also said, “Negative peer pressure can be very dangerous for your child from a long term perspective.”

Of course, the latter side positive peer pressure. Many define positive peer pressure as encouragement towards indiviuals who didn’t have the courage to do or just didn’t cross one’s mind. The Ohio School Study Team states, “Good peer pressure can also be a situation when your friends convince you not to do something you were going to do because it wasn’t in your best interest.” This kind of peer pressure is important, useful, and stresses the importance of friendship and loyalty.

Although we must be supportive of unity and peace, something has to be said for the individualism and the uniqueness of each student instead of being persuaded by cliques and groups. During those high school years, cliques seem to rule the entire atmosphere. These groups seem to represent a judgmental and most often incorrect statement about teenagers. For example, the “emo” group, the jocks, the popular crowd and so on.

Schools should encourage individuality and independence in order for teenagers to pursue what makes them truly happy before going out there and figure out, quite harshly, what doesn’t.

On a final note, peer pressure can go back and forth. Ideas and individual thought are what truly define a human being, not their social status.

Schools should do more to stress independence and character building because these cliques in high school will not last forever. One day, every single one of those teenagers will graduate into becoming young adults.

One will have to define oneself, not by their group, but by their moral and individual, unique character. It will be the individual’s choice to define who he or she is and to focus on them, on what they think is right for them. That is what all schools should be teaching their children, above all education. Free yourself now of conformity!

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