Social interactions play a crucial role throughout our lives. Positive relationships with others make life exciting and boosts our energy which allows us to move forward in life. But sometimes people get mislead and are forced to follow the incorrect path. It seems as if there is no way out once they are trapped! The most susceptible group of people to get tangled in this issue are the teenagers in school. Teens deftly fall in peer pressure, which is being forced to do things against their will, but they have to do so in order to fit in. Although there are many factors that may affect a teen’s behaviour, but peer pressure negatively effects teenager’s decision making abilities and results in low self-esteem, leading to an increased chance of them acting delinquent.
When people think about teenagers, words like “responsible” or “careful” are not the first words to come to their mind, because teens are judged by their irrational decision making. Although, in most cases there’s a possible reason behind their act, mostly they are influenced or forced by their peers. “Observational data point to peer influence as a primary contextual factor contributing to adolescents’ heightened tendency to make risky decisions” (Albert, Chein ; Steinberg 2013). Furthermore, adolescents can also be influenced to make negative choices by their peers, choices like skipping school, bullying juniors and even trying alcohol and drugs which are considered to be cool. “Social needs, such as feelings of belonging, acceptance, and attachment, intensify during adolescence and may increase the amount of control exerted by a peer group” (Kiran-Esen ; Binnaz 2012). When a person faces ignorance by their parents, siblings or friends it extremely affects them as they begin to think everyone is superior and they are unattractive, unintelligent and not appreciated by anyone. At that time, whoever offers their support, they tend to clutch on to them and are willing to do anything in order to have a sense of social belonging. They start to exhibit a tendency to change their appearance in order to blend into the crowd. When deciding what to buy or what to wear, they will always have a notion in their mind to improve their looks, so they won’t be picked on. Hence pressure from peers can alter decision making.
Criminal behaviour in teens is also connected to peer pressure, but it may not be the only factor. May Omogho Esiri (2016:8) states that “…Individuals become delinquent through association with people who are the carriers of criminal norms and that criminal behaviour is learned within primary groups in particular, peer groups. That is, Criminal behaviour in adolescents is as a result of social influence”. Children are more likely to commit minor crimes when they observe their close friends doing so. Family and friends impact adolescents in a positive or negative way; family connections can help the child in choosing which type of peers they may choose as friends, and friends can help them by spreading positive vibes. Mark Warr (1993:248) claims that “Parents who spend time with their children may reduce the likelihood of delinquent behavior, either by reducing opportunities for delinquency (time spent with parents is time spent away from delinquent peers) or by maximizing their effect as positive (law-abiding) role models”. Parents can decrease their children’s susceptibility to delinquency by simply spending time with them, but as of today it seems difficult, because parents are often busy with their work. When teen’s do not get time from their family, they seek that time and attention from friends and there’s an equal chance of them falling into a wrong peer group as there is to a right one.