Peer Pressure, A Silent Destroyer

When people make an assessment of a teaching institution, the usual statistics will show its population size, its average success rate relative to the next high school or next university, and matters relate d to funding and facility. It is due to this that a main problem which I believe has an actual direct effect on the teaching & learning capability institution is missed out on. This problem would mean great impact on the learning curve and capacity of the student to focus and maximize the facilities given by the institution no matter how good they may be.
In common terms, we call it peer pressure. I believe in fact that it is because this is so common an experience that people may downplay its actual effect on a student or turn a blind eye to what it can do. In my own experience through earlier years I stood witness to this. It could be something as simple as people being pushed around in the hallway because their growth spurt was late and they were shorter than everyone else. Or, people being teased because their pants were too short or their clothes didn’t match.
These issues seem childish and light, however considering the emotional makeup of a growing child or adolescent at this point, these can birth insecurities that scar one’s capacity to bloom later on. Are these incidents common? Absolutely. In fact, it is because they are common that they are missed out on. Schools will focus on building a new gym, or increasing the number of books to be read, or fine tuning the arithmetic and language curriculum. Now, don’t get me wrong. These things are very important in the quality of the individual. However, the school’s output is only one side of the coin.

The other side lies in a student’s capability to absorb and focus on the lesson at hand. How can a young individual give his or her best output into utilizing these tools, if he knows that once he steps of the classroom, the bullies will be pushing him against the locker, or the popular girls just might make fun of her again? Call it a seeming minor detail, but to a student in the growing year, “fitting in” and “belonging” can mean everything and certainly much more than a high grade. In my own school environment, my experience was the same. Friends of mine were subject to the similar treatment.
It was hard to look at, but then, the feeling at the time was that there was nothing anyone could do about it. I can only imagine how much better they would have done in school if they didn’t have to worry about these things. I’ve seen these things happen in my own world with my own eyes. I’m sure others have as well. In the newspaper or nighttime updates, every now and then we hear stories about a new student killed by fraternity hazing, or a student with a gun in school. The common reaction would be to turn away and say, “oh that wouldn’t happen in my school.
” Or “gosh, it so dangerous, but good thing it’s not in the area of my kids”. Really, would that be the same mindset of the parents and students who actually were part of the school community where the event occurred? Looking at online forums on peer pressure, various responses of how the youth today is affected are expressed, particularly the girls. Heavy alcohol drinking, smoking, taking drugs and underage sexual activity are now very widespread in the youth whether or not we agree to believe it, simply because of this desire to be accepted.
Conversations among them lie more on what the next person has done or not done, rather than on planning for the future. Many of them will be at parties getting drunk where it is played off as cool. Smoking and drug use are rampant as well. Even the pressure of having sex has grown over years, despite the media’s exposed risk of unwanted pregnancies or STD’s. Friends say it is “no big deal” and talk about it as if it was just sipping a cup of tea, and a requirement to be “normal”. So many of these issues circle the mind of a student, remain unaddressed, and cloud the student’s mind from focusing on what should be the priority at the time.
It is true that school facilities are important, however equally needed, is helping the students of today actually focus on using the school to create more of a future for themselves. The question remains though on how this problem can be addressed. True, it will not be an easy task, but if at all an attempt can be made to give students guidance and support during these hears of change, then at least some of them can be given the motivation to go against the grain and not succumb to the whims of peer pressure.
Friends are diaries to which we can share and unburden all of our secrets and emotions into. They can be wise and a strong pillar of strength, while at the same time can be sources of wrong influence. If a school can create a positive working environment and encourage right experiences and friendships, this would be a tool to help. Family is another factor. For some who have good relationships with family, allowing interaction with them can provide the child to open up and reach out.
For those whose families become unbearable, then it basically remains in letting the student have someone to talk to, chat with and trust, and ensuring such person is one who is understanding and capable of meeting the child at his level, whether it be a counselor, coach or friend. The problem does not lie on morals or lessons as these which are instilled in us in earlier youth remain there. The problem is that these very principles that we have prided ourselves in and held on to no longer empower us, as they are overshadowed by the need to ‘fit in’.
And as this need grows, then our mind is pushed away from focusing on what matter at the time, namely, studies and improvement of one’s skills for the future. I am thankful that somehow I made it through those years and continually make the effort to grow. My only hope is that children of the future can be given more support, that they may surpass these obstacles with more grace than many of my friends did, and focus earlier on working on their goals and dreams for their future.

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