What is peer pressure?

Peer pressure is the force that someone feels to behave or dress a certain way.  A peer could be a friend, someone in the community, or even someone on TV. You may experience peer pressure as you live up to either the individual's or group's expectations or follow a particular fashion or trend.


Where does peer pressure come from?

Peer pressure may be present at school, home, or within the general community. It can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. It may affect people in different ways. Some of the ways it may affect you include:


Directly - You may experience peer pressure as someone telling you what you should be doing. It may be a good idea to talk to someone you trust if you feel threatened, are being hurt, or being pressured into something you do not want to do. This may be a family member, teacher, youth worker, or counselor.

Indirectly - Peer pressure may not always be obvious to you. It is not uncommon for a group of friends to have particular habits or activities that they do together. It may be that when you are with a different group of friends you are unlikely to do those things. For example, you may only smoke when you are with certain friends or you may be more likely to study when you are with other friends.

Individual - Sometimes the pressure comes from you. Feeling different from the group may be hard. To avoid this, sometimes we do things to make sure we feel like the rest of the group. Moving to a new area or starting high school may be scary. Often it means having to make new friends and fit into a new environment. When we are feeling unsure about ourselves we may be more likely to feel the affects of peer pressure.


What can we do about it?

Here are some suggestions that may help you manage peer pressure better:

Valuing common interests - Hanging out with people who like doing similar stuff may help to avoid a situation where you feel pressured into stuff you don't want to do. Being seen hanging out in the cool crowd may not be as much fun as it looks.


Saying "No" - Having the strength to say "no" may be hard. However, it may also feel good to stick with what you believe in. Explaining to people in a calm way why you don't want to be part of something may earn you respect from others.


Try not to judge others - If possible, try not to place judgments on other people's choices. Respecting someone else's choice may help them to respect yours. Try to remember that you don't have to agree with their actions. Focusing on the reasons why you don't feel happy with the choice may help you not to judge them.


Take action - Sometimes you are able to tackle peer pressure because you are older or feel more comfortable in your environment. Standing up for someone may help. Both of these are ways in which you may be able to create a positive vibe out of peer pressure.

Friends and Peer Pressure

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:


Not Your Friend - People you usually don't associate with under normal circumstances.


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.


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.


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.

Source: http://library.thinkquest.org/3354/Resource_Center/Virtual_Library/Peer_Pressure/peer.htm




Discussion Questions

In groups of three, discuss the following questions.  Be sure to bring up specific examples from Stargirl to support your answers.  You do not have to write your answers down.  Your small group will share your thoughts and ideas with the rest of the class.  You will have 8 minutes to discuss your answers and reach a decision about the questions.


Group 1 Discuss the pressures at Mica High.  What pressures do the students face?  How do

                 they deal with them?  How does Stargirl react to these pressures?  Why? 


Group 2 What suggestions would you offer the students at Mica High with regards to peer

                 pressure?  What would you tell Leo, Stargirl, Hillari, Dori, and the others?


Group 3 Which characters in Stargirl face direct peer pressure?  Which face indirect peer pressure?   

                 Which face individual peer pressure?  Discuss why the pressures they face are either direct,

                 indirect, or individual. 


Group 4 Think about the friendships and relationships in Stargirl.  Some that come to mind are the

     relationships between Leo and Stargirl, Leo and Kevin, Hillari and Wayne, Dori and 

     Stargirl, and the cheerleaders and Stargirl.  Place these pairs into the category of either Not 

    Friends, Acquaintances, Wannabe Friends, or True Friends.  Discuss why you placed each

     pair where you did.