Teens and Peer Pressure

April 5, 2010

Have you ever been faced with pressure to be perfect, or do something you knew was wrong just to fit in? Every teen will experience pressure that will overwhelm and upset them; and the way each teen reacts to pressure depends on their own personal understanding. During the adolescent years teens are more likely to seek the opinion and acceptance of their friends rather than their parents. Peer pressure has the power to influence a teenager’s views, activities and life.


Teens are pressure by their peers to look good. Pressure can affect a lot of teens who are self-conscious about certain aspects of their body; they tend to struggle with their body image because they are uncomfortable with the changes that are occurring in their bodies as they go through puberty. As the body grows and matures, some parts of the body tend to fill out more quickly than others, causing major pressure and anxiety as teens compare their bodies to other teens that have more developed features.


All girls develop differently; some have their periods sooner, have bigger bosoms, slim bodies and perfect skin. Unfortunately, some girls aren’t so lucky. Instead of smooth skin, they have horrible acne or dry skin; they tend to be chubbier, and are often known as “late bloomers”.


Guys often develop later than girls, but when they do develop, height, muscle structure and weight are very important. Unlike guys who have the perfect body, height, and weight—guys who are short, puny or overweight have a difficult time during puberty because of the constant teasing and body image issues. All this pressure on teens about how their bodies should look is unnecessary; it is important to realize that there are some things about our bodies that cannot be changes. Whether teens have chubby fingers, big feet or acne on their faces, they shouldn’t be concerned about what other teens think about them—it is not about what’s on the outside that should count, but the genuine character of the person on the inside.


In today’s world, teens face overwhelming pressure to be part of the “in crowd”. For teens, fitting in may be as simple as having the latest cell phone, coolest jeans or the right friends. But the struggle doesn’t end with the cell phones and jeans—it goes to the extreme of having sex or doing other sexual things before they are physically and mentally ready.


Stop and think for a minute about what TV, movie and the Internet are really teaching teens. These forms on entertainment not only educate teens on what’s going on in the world but entertainment is also teaching teens that it is ok to have sex before marriage. The TV, movies and the Internet, however, do not give the full story behind sex. Entertainment only gives you half of the story, giving you the fun and excitement, tempting you to “try it just once”. Sex may seem exciting, but you don’t often hear about what happens after sex. What’s the other half of the story? The other side of the story isn’t fun nor is it exciting.


On TV you are likely to see commercials advertising shots to prevent STDs. STDs, also known as sexual transmitted diseases are infections that you can get from having sex with someone who has the disease. “There are more than 20 different STDs, including Herpes Simplex, HIV/AIDS, HPV, and Chlamydia.” (“Sexually Transmitted Diseases”).


After having sex, the teen will most likely be hurt emotionally— left with the feeling of rejection and the knowledge that their partner used them to get a “free trial run”, or a “refill” or the sex he or she craved.


Not only was the person used and possibly given and STD, but the girl involved will have to deal with the burden and pressure of being pregnant. For girls, chances of getting pregnant are slim if they use the pill, AKA: birth control. But that alone doesn’t mean the girl will not get pregnant. And for the guy who happened to get the girl pregnant, he either have to marry her or pay her child support, and live with the regret that he ruined the girl’s chances of a happy future.


Believe it or not, it is okay to not have sex; it is better to wait. And if you wait, you’ll be avoiding a lifetime of pain, regret, STDs and a possible child. Teens feel that in order to be popular or likes be the opposite gender, they must be willing to be sexually active. Writer Michael Lemonick states that, “more than 54% of kids’ ages 15 to 19 say that they have engaged on oral sex at least once.” (64). The scary thing about teens and sex, is that the age in which teens begin having sex gets younger and younger.


Does the pressure ever ease up? When teens are dealing with poor body image and the pressure to do things that they aren’t ready for, they often resort to harming themselves to ease the pressure and the pain. People with a negative body image resort to crash diets, bingeing, cutting, and committing suicide in order find some relief. “Adolescents, who have low self-esteem, are highly self-critical, and who feel little sense of control over negative events are particularly at risk to become depressed when they experience stressful events,” says writer Jami Jones. Magazines and TV have a lot to do with how teenagers see themselves. Their perception of their body is made worse with runway models, actors and actresses with slim bodies, flawless skin and bulging muscles. With these unrealistic and unhealthy realities, no wonder our teens are struggling to accept who they are as individuals.


Teens struggling with the pressure to have sex also battle depression. They feel that once they’ve had the sex that there is no other way to solve their problems—no way to get out, so they resort to other ways like suicide. The Mental Health of America says that teens often, “feel so depressed that they consider ending their lives. Each year almost 5,000 young people, ages 15 to 19 kill themselves. The rate of suicide for this age group has nearly tripled since 1960, making it the third leading cause of death in adolescence and the second cause of death among college-age youth.” (“Depression in Teens”).


With struggling with peer pressure and a negative body image—talking time to talk to a trusted adult about issues is a way teens can overcome whatever they are dealing with. It is important to keep a good flow of communication between the teen and the adult who can help, so the teen can have a person to go to when feeling pressured. Teens who struggle with peer pressure and a negative body image need to realize that no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes, and no one has the perfect body. Instead of teens dwelling over the mistakes they have made, or how many “flaws” their body seems to have; they should try to identify their personal, God given strengths and build on them.


Everyone struggles with who they are and what they’ve done, but teens need to realize that life isn’t over because they have made a mistake or aren’t perfect. Peer pressure has the power to influence a teenager’s views, actions and life, but we have the power to overcome that power and think and act for ourselves.




Works Cited

“Depression in Teens: Facing the Danger of Teen Suicide.” Mental Health Of America. (2009) MedlinePlus. Vol. State Comm. Coll. Lib.,Gallatin, TN. 10Apr. 2009.

Jones, Jami L. "Freak Out or Melt Down: Teen Responses to Trauma and Depression.(Hot Spot: Outreach to Special Teen Audiences)(Report)." Young Adult Library Services 7.1 (Fall 2008): 30(5). Academic OneFile. Gale. Vol. State Comm. Coll. Lib., Gallatin, TN. 10 Apr. 2009.

Lemonick, Michael D."A Teen Twist on Sex: A New Survey Says Many U.S. Teens Have Engaged in Oral Sex--and it's Not Just Boys On the Receiving End." Time 166.13 (Sept 26, 2005): 64. General OneFile. Gale. Vol. State Comm. Coll., Gallatin, TN. 20 Apr. 2009. http://find.galegroup.com.libproxy.volstate.edu/itx/start.do?prodId=ITOF

“Sexually Transmitted Diseases.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Medline Plus.Vol. State Comm. Coll. Lib., Gallatin, TN. 24 April 2009.

5 comments

  1. I was really interested in reading what you posted, Emily -- thankyou! And I totally agree. :)

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  2. What a great article!!!!! Amazing job!

    Praise G-D,
    Katherine

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  3. Hello!

    I agree with almost all of that post, except for the talking to an adult. It does sound like a good idea, i will give you that. But being a teen myself, I, as mentioned, turn to my friends, not my parents. I trust my friends more than I trust my parents and my friends know more about me than my parents do! So many people say, "Go to a trusted adult." but the thing is that no one ever does. We don't like sharing our thoughts with older people, the thought to me is repulsive. Not that I have ANYTHING wrong with older people, my favorite cousins are 25-35. But I just don't like having older people that I don't KNOW know about my "problems" so to speak. I don't like the fact that someone outside of my family would know about my life outside of school or wherever I see them.
    That's how I see it at least.

    ~Erin

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  4. Emily,

    Wonderful post. Beautifully written. Thank you.

    Erin,
    Forgive me but I must disagree. For one thing your friends (and mine) are the same age as we are . They know just as much as I do. They are all just as emotional at this age as I am. They all know as much, and have been through as much as I have. My parents, on the other hand, have lived through being a 'teen'. They know a lot more than I do. They have been though it all. They have also made mistakes. They can tell you the pain those mistakes have brought them. They can tell you what they have learned from them. They are my mental, physical, and spiritual guides.

    Second thing, why do I have parents? Again, forgive me, but it's not just to feed and clothe me until I am able to do provide for myself. My parents are there to show me the ways of God. They are there to council me, to teach me. They are there for me to lean on, to learn from. They are my guides on the path of life.

    Allow me to say, that if your parents do not understand you, maybe you need to spend more time with them. Communicate with them. If they do not know who you are, maybe it's because you don't spend enough time with them. Your friends do not know all about you because you hang around them a lot. Rather they know you because they are who you spend your time around. Even if your parents are not (as mine are) Christian every parent want to know his child's heart.

    Would you please do one thing for me? Sorta as a test. For one week, would you please log how much time you spent with your friends and how much you spend with your parents? Just a rough estimate. Why your at it would you every night before you go to bed thing through your day and see how often you spoke to your parents today? Now, I do understand that with school and all it is hard to spend time. But give it a try.

    Erin, I do not say this to condemn you. Please believe me that I am not perfect in the above either. My communication with my parents is something I am always working on. (Especially with my Pa. Neither of us are great correspondents and so it really is an effort.) I do not know if you are "religious" or not. If you are please spend some time in prayer over this matter. Seek God's council. He is the great counselor. The sovereign God, and the lover of your (and my) soul. No question have I asked him that He did not answer. If you are not (and if you are not I am sure you are rolling your eyes and wondering what kinda religious wacko I am) still please consider what I have to say. This is your life we are talking about. This is your life that will be affected by what you do or don't do. You only have one life (whether you are Christian or not you will agree with me here). Friends are a wonderful thing. I have friends who as dear to me as family. But remember they only know as much as you do. Say you are fatally sick. Do you see the doctor who has spent year and years in medical school? or do you revert to your friend? Who knows more on the topic? If you have made it thus far, I thank you for listening to me.

    In the name of the Risen Lord,
    Brianna Wachter

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  5. Great article, my dear. Amazing. I loved it. :)

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