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It is correct to describe peer pressure as a strong force, influence, bullying or coercion, which friends, contemporaries, or colleagues exert on each other in an age group. Similarly, it is true to argue that peer pressure is evident among all age groups. However, it is most observed among preteens, teenagers, and the adolescents than it is in adults and senior citizens. Generally, the age ranges of the target population, i.e. preteens, teenagers and adolescents, encompass the youths who are schooling in primary, secondary, and pre-university institutions. The growing years, which parents dread, are referred to as the rebellious years. At this period, youths yearn for self-acclaimed independence and challenge the authorities at home, religious houses, and even in school. Fortunately, children that have been brought up in a good way have the fear of God in them. They enjoy access to quality education and good home training. Therefore, the possibility of youths surrendering under pressure is minimal.
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There are various sources of peer pressure. Some are related to age-appropriate behavior, while others are influenced by external factors. One of the causes of this peer pressure is the neglect of parents (Cullingford 17). Children may suffer from parental neglect at a tender age or even in their teenage life. Neglect can either be physical or behavioral. This is where parents lack time to interact with the children on life issues. Parents become too busy to schedule quality time with their children more often. Some even assume that all is well with their children and leave social education to teachers. Others are shy and conservative while being careful not to input dirty minds to their precious sons/daughters. Cullingford (35) argued that when children fail to obtain information from their parents, they seem to seek it elsewhere. Inadvertently, children are left to search for love, approval, and acceptance from other quarters regardless of the costs involved. They try and get access to every piece of information, behavior, and norms that are absent in their homes. They also get information for the first time from peers, which make them curious and inquisitive. Depending on the kind of behavior portrayed by peers, youths adopt positive or negative attitude towards life issues. By the time parents realize that they had neglected their children, it becomes too late to rectify their mistakes. Once certain behaviors enter the mind of a naive child, it becomes difficult to change it. From such perspective, children become more attracted to their peers as opposed to their parents. They are more likely to accept ideas, advice, and suggestions from their peers at the expense of their parents.
Low self-esteem is another factor that causes peer pressure. Self-esteem reflects a person’s overall emotional evaluation of his/her own worth (Havelin 12). When it is low, people find it hard to have faith in them. They shy off from tasks requiring them to make decisions. In most cases, they do not standout on their own. Low self-esteem makes teenagers susceptible to peer pressure. These are children who view themselves as unpopular, unintelligent and unattractive. They become more vulnerable to peer pressure. This is because they yearn for a sense of belonging, acceptance, and approval. Consequently, they are willing to do anything to achieve those things through conformity. This is an attempt to achieve equality and to share characteristics similar to their peers. Teenagers with low self-concepts tend to select friends who reinforce or reflect their self-image (Havelin 45). These include drug users, underdogs, and friends who bully or dominate them. Children who lack confidence in themselves cannot make decisions on their own. Therefore, they engage in unsafe or illegal behaviors. Also, they become more vulnerable to depression and emotional issues.
Once a child, teen or young adolescent lacks self-esteem, he/she becomes dependent on the peers’ decision-making ability. Theirs is to receive orders from their peers and acting accordingly. The underlying fear of being ridiculed by colleagues and being referred to as weaklings makes them give in. If they failed to participate in activities such as smoking weed/cigarettes/pot, sexual immoralities, pilfering, pub crawling, cultism, and truancy, they are ridiculed by their peers (Lawton 68). This means that everything that they do is for the fear of what their peers will talk about them. Moreover, it becomes apparent that before acting or accepting any kind of life change, teenagers must consult with their colleagues on what is the right thing to do. Eventually, this would bar them from being ridiculed or mocked by their fellow friends. The feeling escaped by teens when giving in to peer pressure is that of being uniformed or dormant.
There are people who argue that peer pressure can only emerge or affect school-goers. This opinion comes from the view that schools are the meeting point for many children/teens from different backgrounds. They get to learn new things and behaviors they might not have learnt while at home. The logic presented in this claim is that peer pressure is more influential whenever children/teens come together in large numbers. However, this is not correct. This is because children and teens can be subjected to peer pressure even when they are at home. They are likely to meet friends in the neighborhood with various characteristics. They are vulnerable to adopt behaviors portrayed by their neighborhood friends who might have acquired negative social behaviors. Therefore, it is the duty of parents to initiate social behaviors in children before they adopt it from their peers.