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Converting Peer Pressure:
A Bibliographic Analysis Essay
Patrick Smith
Academic affiliation: Oklahoma State University
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This paper will focus on teenagers and how they are affected by peer pressure. Results of scholars who have studied teen peer pressure have express views on what could be done to handle the situation. Almost every day teenagers are being pressured in to fitting in or doing something that they do not want to do. Teens try to apply positive ways of avoiding or even coping with peer pressure when they can not get help. When teenagers are young they go through many things like moving, mixed relationships with friends and family, and this puts a very big strain on them emotionally and mentally through out their years of growing. Over the years scholars have focused on steps to help fight peer pressure.

The reason for actions against peer pressure is because adults are concerned with their children's choices regarding the use of drugs, out of the ordinary behavior, and immature relationships. Scholars have found connections between children and how they act towards drugs, and different behaviors. The reason for the children acting the way they do is because of their friends and family. Parents are strongly encouraged to spend time with their children as well as the children being encouraged by good friends to help make the right choice. Ross Steinberg, quoted in the article "Peer Potential," says "Psychologically, teenagers are motivated to create a more independent sense of themselves by loosening the bonds with parents and friends" (28).

B. Branford Brown, one of the authors of "Peer Potential," agrees with Ross Steinberg that "socially children are placed in environments that increases opportunities with peers, they are also physically drawn to peers with experience, and spiritually appreciate the equality and reciprocity achieved with people their own age" (32). All these factors help explain why teenagers attach increasing importance to friendships and peer group relationships, especially during early adolescence. This writer believes that parents should try to watch out for their children as well as good friends. Parents and friends try to involve their children or friends in fun organizations and to find out more about them. Parents have always wanted to be in their children's life more often, but sometimes work and other physical and mental problems arise that may delay the parent in spending time with their children.

When children are not being talk to or nobody interacts with them, the child will look for other ways of comfort. Sometimes this comfort will involve eating when ever the child is depressed or needs attention. In the article, "Risk Factors for the onset of eating disorders in adolescent girls," a study was conducted on obesity in children. The McKnight Longitudinal Risk Factor Study showed the importance of positive parents and friends would help lead to a healthier life style (Risk factors 1). Millions of people in America are obese and this is very hard on any human body, especially a young growing child. The McKnight Longitudinal Risk Factor Study also showed that "effort to reduce peer, cultural, and other sources of thin body preoccupation may be necessary to prevent eating disorders" (Risk factors 1).

Children that experience negative peer pressure and give in go through a wide array of emotions. Some of these emotions may involve a teen being pressured by other teens into doing something that may be regretted in the future, like being mean to a fellow student. The pressured teen feels that the peer group demands conformity to fit in with other teens or peers. Author Micheal Ungar of "The myth of peer pressure" points out "adolescents experience anxiety or frustrations when unable to follow the dictums of their peers" (7). Adults need to explain to youths about troubling behaviors. Micheal Ungar also states: "In the present study behavior and constant appearance of peers was a consciously employed strategy to enhance personal and social power" (7). John Murray does not completely agree with this view, because in most societies parents work very late or even hold two jobs and can not have "constant appearance" with their children ( Kansas State University 2). Ungar explains that when parents are around their children, the children will not complain and have a sense of comfort (7). Furthermore, the presence of adults in everyday activities with their children will build a stronger bond between adults and teens (7). In addition, John Murray examines the possibility that the reason children do not always complain to their parents is because parents are also the discipliners (2).

Children are sometimes afraid that their parent will punish them for complaining that to much time is spent with them and that they need their personal space. Children often see their parents throw up their hands and say "I can understand why you do things like this," and this gives them the sense that maybe they should not say what is on their mind. In addition with Ungar's statement about parents constantly being their for their children, John Murray states that "Parents can not be everywhere, but they can plant the seed in their children's mind that if they need anything they will be their all they have to do is ask" (2).

This writer feels that parents should spend time with their children and build reassurance with their children that they have the power to over come any obstacle. When the adolescent hears this they are more inclined to try harder at pleasing not only their peers but themselves as well. Parents like to credit scholars for studying more in to what affects the child with peer pressure and how to cure the problem. What the parent does not understand is that only they alone can be the one to truly find out what is really bothering the child. When the parent does not recognize the problem the scholars books and articles only help to point the problem out.

Much has been done to better understand peer pressure. Another major factor that has helped with understanding children being pressured is the people children are around more socially, such as friends. Friends influence children beyond the parent's dreams. Friends actually have the power to change a child's decision, even when a child's own parent had told them not to do something that may injure or even get them in to trouble. Elly Schottman says, "As kids grow older, their understandings about friendship change" (14). "Gradually, children learn how to give and take, control their anger, and see someone else's point of view" (14). Elly Schottman supplies several examples of how parents can use positive peer pressure help their children better understand friendships and also tells what thoughts and actions children go threw at certain age groups. Joseph Bryan holds the same views as Elly Schottman but with an older crowd, like adults. Bryan explains that "through positive reinforcement adults will feel better about themselves and they will be more inclined to be positive" (2). Elly Schottman stresses in her article what parents should do with positive peer pressure to help their children with new and young friendships. Schottman discusses how parents should lay some rules down about how their children, being young, should get along with other children. Rules that involve using words instead of hitting should be taught at a young age. In addition, teaching children to treat each other with respect and not calling each other names. Also, taking time to listen to your children about things that interest them and asking them questions to stimulate their mind. Be supportive letting your child be the problem solver.

Joseph Bryan uses positive peer pressure on adults to encourage them to do a better job at work. Bryan informs fellow employees and employers "not to scold or criticize or tattle on each other" (1). Employees and employers should be given praise and thanks for good performance, support and give advice when someone is not working up to par. Bryan talks about how "practically all workers desire good opinion of their colleagues; in many cases, it is more important than praise from the boss" (1). This praise can turn underachievers in to a worker that genially loves their work and is willing to do better and show up on time. Bryan suggests that "workers and employers invest time in team-oriented contest to encourage workers to push each other and work toward a certain goal" (1). Also employers should inform their workers about their jobs and the problems that may arise give the workers help and suggestions. Bryan also encourages "the employers to hold company picnics to thank their employees for all the work they have done sense they started work" (1).

Some people wonder why an author or scholar would put so much time in studying children relations and development. Scholars, Adler and Adler "see the study of children important because they are considered incomplete adults" (Bearman 17). Furthermore, "one study involves children and their lives in order to understand how childhood experiences contribute to the understanding of the same individuals as adults" (Bearman 17). In other words, childhood is just a transitional period from which one graduates into real life. Barry H. Schneider, author of "Friends and enemies," expresses uncertainty in parents and peers in how children are being judged. Schneider explains that, "it is perhaps human nature that causes parents and teachers to contemplate the behaviors of young children and use what they see as basis for predicting the children's futures (18).

Audrey Gartner, author of "converting peer pressure," explains that, "peer pressure is blamed for everything from poor grades to drug abuse and that a new hopelessness has arisen about our society's ability to educate young people today" (1). Gartner suggests that "parents and their children get involved with school programs to provide a very different and positive message that anything can be done as long as a person tries" (1). Some positive school programs have programs like drug awareness, peer tutoring and mentoring, basketball activities, and other youth events to involve children in activities. Youth participation in school programs help send powerful information to other young children so that they should not give in to bad peer pressure and that the good choices they have more than out weigh the bad choices. Gartner explains that "training focused on the problems facing today's youth will show how to cope with everyday school and family" (2).

The focus on children and the bad things they do has been shifted to ways of giving positive feelings and relations ships. Early scholars focused more on children and the negative things they do to themselves and society, where as the focus on children should of when on ways to involve the children in a productive manner, like parent and children day. Children start out with good intentions, but when bad things happen and nobody is there to share or help express the new feeling they are having could have a very negative effect mentally. Children need the comfort and reassurance from their parents and friends to make them strive to do better and give them a more sense of security.

Work Cited

Bearman, Peter, Hannah Brauckner, B. Branford Brown, Wendy Theoboald, Susan Hilliber. Peer potential: making the most of how teens influence each other. Washington, DC: National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 1999.

D.O. Bryan, Joseph. "Positive peer pressure." Supervisory Management Saranac Lake. 26 September. http://gateway.proquest.com/.

Gartner, Audrey. "Converting peer pressure." Social Policy New York. 27 September 2003. http://gateway.proquest.com/.

"Kansas State University: K-State professor says parental presence can counteract adverse media influence, peer pressure as preteens immerse in teenage music, culture" Kansas State University (10 Jan 2002). Proquest: Oklahoma State University Library. Article A98947375. 26 September 2003.

"Risk factors for the onset of eating disorders in adolescent girls: Results of McKnight Longitudial Risk Factor Study." The American Journal of Psychiatry Washington. 160.2 (Feb 2003). 27 September 2003

Schneider, Barry H. Friends and enemies: peer reations in childhood. London: Arnold. 2000.

Schottman, Elly. "The ups and downs of friendship." Washington, D.C.: U.S. Dept of Education 26 September 2003. Microfilm.

Ungar, Micheal T. "The myth of peer pressure." Adolescence 35.137 (2000). Proquest: Oklahoma State University Library. Article A54847979. 27 September 2003. http://gateway.proquest.com.

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