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Peer Pressure and its often overlooked Insidious Nature.

By: Adefokun Jucal.

Image Credit: Pinterest.

The Insidious Nature of Peer Pressure.

Peer pressure is a common topic of discussion. It has been the subject of many talks and seminars, so much that the average person has probably heard the term repeatedly, even if they don’t understand it. It plays an important role in the growth of a boy-child, especially at teenage age. Today, save its definition, we will not be rehashing the typical talking points on peer pressure. We will instead consider an often overlooked aspect of peer pressure — its subtle and consequently insidious nature. And while peer pressure can be either negative or positive, we will focus on its negative forms in this article. That said, let us consider what peer pressure is.

What is peer pressure?

In a September 2020 article published on choosingtherapy.com, peer pressure is said to be the process by which individuals within the same group influence others in the group to engage in a behavior or activity that they may not otherwise engage in. A peer can be any individual who belongs to the same social groups or circles as you and has some type of influence over you. Having said that, a good number of people are familiar with obvious forms of peer pressure, but they are often unaware or fail to pay attention to its subtle forms. Such forms of peer pressure can be rather insidious in their execution.

Before we continue though, we must answer a vital question, and that is “What does it means for a thing to be insidious?” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the term insidious refers to something unpleasant or dangerous which gradually and secretly causes harm. From this, we can infer that for a thing to be insidious, it has to be gradual, difficult to discover, and have very harmful effects. With this important question answered, let us now proceed to consider these subtle forms of peer pressure.

Subtle Forms of Peer Pressure

Subtle forms of peer pressure simply entail unspoken and indirect forms of pressure from one’s peers. It doesn’t involve direct forms of pressure such as persuasion, shaming or mockery. As an example, a boy might be exposed to the actions and habits of his peers, and is left to decide whether or not to emulate them. Take for example that in a hood where there are boys of the same age group, and a good number of them take alcohol. Without any direct form of persuasion to one another, boys in that group are bound to want to emulate what the other persons do lest they are left out. It is often not easy to not emulate, as it would invariably make them the “odd one out”. It is important to mention that such actions and/or habits could include fashion choices, personal interactions, drinking habits, and even things as seemingly trivial as speech patterns. Let’s take when the “Balenciaga” sweaters were in vogue as an example. Many just bought it simply because their friends did.

These forms of peer pressure are quite insidious due to their ability to escape the notice of practically everyone who does not actively watch out for them. Sadly, this means that their harmful effects may not be noticed until the damage is done, as has been revealed with the alcohol intake example above.

At this juncture, we have been able to establish the existence of subtle forms of peer pressure, and their insidious nature. It is therefore necessary to also consider how these subtle forms of peer pressure can be combated, and overcome.

How to Combat Subtle Peer Pressure

It’s important to prepare for dealing with peer pressure. Being able to spot signs of peer pressure will also help prevent boys generally from being caught unawares. Some strategies that may be useful in combating subtle forms of peer pressure might include the following.

  • Remaining conscious: It is important boys are taught to be aware of influences around them such as social media, the opinions of friends and even family members. Being conscious also entails continually being on the lookout for subtle forms of pressure from their peers.
  • Planning ahead: Boys should be encouraged to think about the things they might be subtly pressured to do that they don’t want to. Plan ahead for ways to deal with the pressure. It would also be beneficial to think of how they might leave a situation if it becomes uncomfortable.
  • Building friendships with the right people: Cultivating friendships with individuals who share their values is vital as they would be less likely to pressure them whether overtly or covertly into doing things they do not want to do.

It is important to state that while peer pressure can be a problem, it isn’t always a bad thing. Positive peer pressure can be a valuable part of learning how to socialize and even growing as a person, and that is something building friendships with the right people can help boys achieve.

I shall end this with a few parting words. While it might seem difficult to navigate all the instances of peer pressure, it is not impossible. As stated in this article, boys should be taught to have to remain attentive, plan ahead and be intentional about whom they associate with.

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