The reality of peer pressure in teenage society

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The reality of peer pressure in teenage society

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Since I was a kid in elementary school, we’ve been told about this looming idea of “peer pressure.” From what I absorbed, I expected to be given free drugs at school or on the street, to go to parties and be forced to drink my little heart out or be given cigarettes against my will. What a scary future, right?

Wrong.

I’m 16 years old, a junior in high school and I’ve never been forced to take any substance I didn’t want to. Not to say that this doesn’t happen to others, but, really, how common can this peer pressure about drugs really be?

The Adolescent Substance Abuse Knowledge Base (ASAKB) reports that right around 30 percent of teens are offered drugs in middle school and high school. This only says they were “offered” though, so there’s no guarantee that everyone offered a substance takes it.

Truthfully, I’ve felt more pressure from my peers about different topics, like about having sex and sexuality in general, how I present myself, what I say or think. If you don’t conform to what “everyone else” is doing, then you can be seen as weird and outlandish.

Health classes give you a slight idea as to what sex is, but I had no idea what I was up against. Despite Health Education’s weak attempt at teaching abstinence, I was led to believe that in our society, we had to have sex with whoever we dated to please them, to be mature, to make it a “real” relationship.

In fact, The Kaiser Foundation reports that about 50 percent of teenagers feel pressured with regard to sex in relationships. I’m not alone in feeling this way.

Not only is there pressure to have sex, there’s also an expectation for who you should want to have sex with, as in your sexual preference.

The True Colors Fund reports that LGBT youth represent an estimated 7 percent of the total youth population.

There are adolescents everywhere who fall along the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Along with this, there are peers who shame or bully those who aren’t heterosexual, as liking the same sex is what is expected.

This is a prime example of peer pressure in the real world. In my experience, kids feel more pressure to conform to how they present their sexuality than with drugs or partying.

All in all, it’s important for teenagers to know that they have no obligation to do anything you’re uncomfortable with. Everyone is in control of their own body and their actions. It’s important not to let anyone take that away.