Peer Pressure and Its Influence Term Paper

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Other factors included family problems and family substance abuse.

Two common aspects occurred in all three blocks: first, interaction between the individual and the collective perspective; and second, the relationship between the subject's interior (e.g., individual, family) and exterior (e.g., environment and peer pressure) facets (Alvarez, et all 2006)."

One of the interviews revealed a combination of peer pressure and family problems as the catalyst for her drug debut.

Female, 16 years old: never had any kind of communication with my parents, I always found refuge with people who I thought were my friends. At home I always had fights with my Mom, and then I felt emotionally really bad. Then in high school I met a guy, he always said "let's go," and I thought: What a wonderful thing if he accepts me, and one day he said "Try this," and it was all over after that."

Adolescent peer pressure is not exclusive to American adolescents. It is worldwide issue that has been addresses through research on an international level. A study conducted in Singapore looked at adolescent youthful offenders and the peer pressure that they may or may not have succumbed to in the decision to offend.

One of the issues this study revealed was the fact that many youthful offenders do not do well in school. Studies have indicated that peer pressure also has an influence on the success or failure of adolescents in school settings, which extrapolated can be seen to also have an influence on decisions to offend the criminal justice system (Bullock, et all 2007).

A third theory relates to the disproportional of youths (i.e., youth of color) in the juvenile justice system. Data show that a significantly disproportionate number of youth in juvenile justice facilities who are ethnic minorities exists, especially African-Americans and Hispanics (e.g., Nelson, Leone, & Rutherford, 2004). Many of these individuals are from low socioeconomic families and live in neighborhoods with poor living conditions where drug and alcohol abuse is prominent. The lack of appropriate adult role models is a common condition. In general, these youths have been treated differently during their school careers, and because of this, they have gravitated to other alienated youths like themselves who seek recognition, which often brings them into conflict with law enforcement (Bullock, et all 2007)."

This theory promotes the belief that peer pressure creates youthful offenders because it is when the adolescent begins to socialize with the alienated youth they begin t make decisions that land them in the criminal justice system for youthful offenders.

This particular study examined the case files of more than 50 inmates who were under the age of 21 when they first came into the system. Almost half of the offenders examined were first time offenders with the other half being categorized as repeat offenders in the system.

According to this study, the most immediate precipitator to the event leading to arrest was peer pressure and influence. One hundred percent of the offenders were with their peers immediately before or while committing the crime that they were arrested for committing (Bullock, et all 2007).

Some of them were arrested for helping peers settle disputes such as in retaliation shootings, beatings or other acts of violence. Others committed their crimes as part of a gang activity while still others said that they committed their crimes to comply with a threat by peers to do so (Bullock, et all 2007).

In one instance, a dispute at an interclass soccer match escalated into a fight. One group outnumbered the other group, and the offender joined in the fight to help his friend's smaller group. Another instance concerned an offender helping a friend take revenge on an ex-girlfriend when she was spotted with another man. Other friends or reinforcements were called in. Although the offender and his friend approached the victim with the intention of finding out the truth, members of the reinforcement team attacked the victim and a fight ensued, with everyone joining in to kick and punch the victim (Bullock, et all 2007). "

One surprising result of this study was the fact that 13% of the participants reported they had committee their crime and other crimes because they wee bored and with their friends. According to the case studies the adolescents in question wee with friends when the friends suggested that attacking someone or committing an assault at the local mall would be fun and cure the boredom the group was feeling. The adolescent agreed to take part in the suggestion of those friends and an innocent person was attacked (Bullock, et all 2007).

About six percent of the participants in the study reported that they had been drinking and taking drugs with their peers immediately before committing the crime they committed.

After a bout of alcohol, one offender with two friends as accomplices decided to beat up Chinese male teenagers and to steal from them. Upon locating a victim in the vicinity, a scuffle broke out and the victim's bag was taken. The offender and his friends later located another Chinese male. The offenders hit the victim, stole his wallet, and fled (Bullock, et all 2007)."

Each of these case study examples illustrate the impact that peer pressure and peer influence had over the adolescents who were incarcerated for committing crimes of violence against other people.

New Zealand study examined the pathway to crime and risk for adolescents and concluded that peer pressure and influence plays an important part in the decision to take risks and commit crimes (Boeck, et al. 2006).

The study examined school problems, drug use and social influence to determine what caused the adolescents to choose criminal paths. In the study the drug use was also tied to peer pressure as reported by the study participants (Boeck, et al. 2006).

The exclusion of some drove those participants to become friends with peers who were making poor life choices, and the acceptance of those peers created a bond from which the adolescent in question was willing to do things that he or she would not normally have done.

One interesting note that was illuminated during this study was the impact that a reversal in types of peer pressure had on participants. One participant reported that when he stopped associating with the trouble makers in the school he began to dress more appropriately, get better grades and become accepted by those who had previously rejected him in the school social setting (Boeck, et al. 2006).

This revelation serves to underscore the influence of peers on adolescents in both the negative and the positive directions of life.

Another study conducted in 2005 with regard to social issues indicated that positive social pressure has a significant role in the choices and feelings that an adolescent experiences. This study looked at depression and within that research found that positive social influences could help reduce depression for those who took part in the study (Meadows, 2007).

The study also found that certain peer pressured behaviors happen more with male adolescents than they do with female adolescents. For example peer pressure has a large influence on the decisions of boys to commit crimes of theft and vandalism while girls were shown to be less likely to give into peer pressure to commit such acts.


For many years parents have wondered what happened to that sweet little boy or girl that they raised who is now a defiant adolescent. As children begin to pull away from their parents and find their identity their friends become a vital part of that identity however, parents want to believe that the values and morals they taught their children while young will be strong enough to withstand any negative peer pressure that they may encounter.

Studies have shown time and time again that peer pressure and peer influence can have a significant impact on the decisions that the adolescent makes. Other factors such as family issues, lack of supervision and socio-economic status also play a part however those factors influence the types of friends the adolescent often seeks out.

Research into the area of peer pressure and the influence it has on adolescents concludes without argument that who an adolescent chooses to associate with plays a major part in the types of choices that adolescent is going to make.

This research is important as it supports the idea that parents need to monitor who their adolescent is associating with and remove the peers that will not be a good or positive influence.


Alberg, Anthony J.; Kalesan, Bindu; Stine, Joan (2006). The joint influence of parental modeling and positive parental concern on cigarette smoking in middle and high school students. Journal of School Health

Alvarez-Nemegyei, Jose; Nuno-Gutierrez, Bertha Lidia; Rodriguez-Cerda, Oscar (2006) Why do adolescents use drugs? A common sense explanatory model from the social actor's perspective.

Journal of Adolescence

Boeck, Thilo; Dunkerton, Leigh; Kemshall, Hazel; Marsland, Louise (2006) Young people, pathways…[continue]

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