PEER PRESSURE
Peer pressure is when "friends" persuade you to doing something that you do not
want to do.  But maybe you want to do it, and you just don't have the courage to do it
and your friends talk you into it. Peer Pressure can be broken down into two areas;
good peer pressure and bad peer pressure.

Bad peer pressure is being coerced into doing something that you didn't want to do
because your friends said that you should.  Friends have a tendency to think that
they know what is best for you, and if your friends are like some of ours, they always
offer their opinion whether it is wanted or not  Well, if friends are going to tell you
what to do, what can you do about it? The most basic thing that you can do is to say
"No, I don't wish to do that!" or if you want to do it, say "Yes, give me a try!"

For instance, if one of your friends offered you a cigarette, you might say "No, that
just doesn't interest me."  But being able to say no may not be the problem; the real
problem arises when your friends repeatedly ask you to do something.  This is
where you have to be able to say to yourself, "I made a decision and I truly feel that
my decision was the correct one", and then be able to express that repeatedly to all
of your friends, and have enough respect for yourself to stand up and not give in.
This seems like a difficult task, doesn't it?  It takes a tremendous amount of will
power to be able to stand up to the people that you know, trust, and respect ... your
friends.

One of the major problems with peer pressure occurs when you get sucked into
something that you really didn't want to do and subsequently, become addicted to
it.  Usually, people get backed into a situation to try illegal drugs, alcohol, and
cigarettes and more times than not, these behaviors can become habit forming.

If and when someone comes up and offers you one of these substances, it is your
decision whether you want to try or continue to use these substances.   You should
be prepared to make these decisions and to make a good decision you must be
educated on that topic.  For instance, say you were going to buy a stereo (think
iPod/MP3 player).  You wouldn't just go out and pick the one that looked nice, you
probably would go to the library (internet) and look into it.  You might do some
research in a few magazines, ask a few friends what they thought, go to the store
and listen to each stereo through multiple speakers and finally make an educated
decision. Before engaging in a specific situation, you should take the time to read
about each one and the possible drawbacks before you decide to try or not to try
anything.

Our reasoning behind not telling you what to do with each decision is because
through out school, we were always told "Say NO to drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes."  
You see, we may have always been taught other people's opinions.  We think that it
is better that one finds out what will happen, how it will happen, and get whatever
information that you need to make an educated decision.  So, arm yourself with
wisdom and knowledge and some decision making skills, so you can live your own
life and finally accept the consequences of doing or not doing something.  

Good peer pressure, on the other hand, is being pushed into something that you
didn't have the courage to do or just didn't cross your mind to do.  However, as you
think about it, it seems like a good thing to do. Good peer pressure can also be a
situation when your friends convince you not to do something you were going to do
because it wasn't in your best interest. Some people say that good peer pressure is
when you get pushed into something that you didn't want to do and it turned out
well.  Well, this may be nice, but ask yourself this question:  how do you know
"ahead of time" whether what you are doing will turn out good or bad?  Can you?  
Most people can't, but if you can, your problems may be solved! When the time
comes for you to make these big decisions, it is important to think before deciding.  
Take as long as you need just to think about whether you want to do it, think about
whether you should, and finally think about the consequences.  These are the
important things that must be done before any big decision is made.  Also, knowing
who is asking you to do something helps you make the decision.  If the person is not
your friend, you should really consider what they want you to do, but if you know, trust
and respect this person then you might seriously consider what they ask.

But how do you know?  For each person, deciding who is your friend or not, is a
difficult decision. It might be of benefit for you to develop some sort of personal
grouping system of your friends and depending on what group they fall into will
determine how strong an influence you allow them to have in your life. One possible
classification scheme might be as follows:


1. Not Your Friend - People you usually don't associate with under normal
circumstances.
2. Acquaintance - This group of people includes those that you might see in school,
but you don't associate with out of school. You might occasionally cross their path
out of school,        but you wouldn't normally seek them out.
3. Wannabe Friends - These are people you might want to be friends with for some
selfish reasons, such as hoping to be more popular. People who fall into this
category are never your true friends because the foundation for the friendship does
not have a solid basis.
4. True Friends - These are the ones in the small, close group of people that you
confide in and you know that they have your best interest in mind. The people in this
group are those whose influence on your life makes you a better person.

Knowing who to listen to and who to avoid is the biggest step in fighting unwanted,
negative peer pressure. Remember, it's your life and your responsibility for
determining what you make of it!