Columnists Features

Who to pal around with

IT IS only human nature to listen to and learn from other people in your age group. From such social interactions, there are both good and bad lessons that can be learnt.
It’s true that peers will influence your life, even if you don’t realise it, just by spending time with them. Actually, many people usually tend to move with the crowd in doing wrong for fear of being left out.
This is what one reader of this column strongly believes, as evidenced by her response to last week’s write-up:
Hi Ephat,
I am a keen follower of the ‘Educational Journey’. I would like to specifically refer to the article for Friday, April 8, 2016 (‘Break in children’s daily routine’) in which you emphasised the fact that young people should be protected against negative peer pressure.
First it is important for us parents to fully understand the reason(s) why people give into peer pressure, as well as how it can be avoided.
Then we will know better how to help our children, whether during school days or while they are on holiday.
Those of us who spent some time at college know that it is at that level where most people adopt destructive behavioural patterns in the name of wanting to be considered as being ‘cool’.
Today we even have youths who engage in violence – youths who seem not to think independently, but are simply following the dictates of other people.
But everything has consequences. It’s only later in life that one starts regretting having made wrong decisions as a result of peer pressure while at school. But such people can do nothing but simply carry the load they acquired through their lifestyle.
So, because of such experiences we’ve undergone in life, we ought to rise above all challenges that our children are faced with so that we can help them become good, law-abiding, hard-working, healthy citizens.
Peer pressure should be that which builds the well-being of our children, not otherwise.
Lizzy P,
Thanks a lot, Ms Lizzy P, for this educative contribution. It’s your invaluable input that prompted me to dedicate this week’s article to one of the most important subjects that affect humanity in general; even as we strive to acquire knowledge for our own benefit – peer pressure.
And, to show that it is truly one area where a lot of efforts have to be concentrated to save our nation’s future, I would like to quote K Munyemesha’s lamentation over wayward schoolchildren (Delinquent pupils worrying, Daily Mail, Wednesday April 13, 2016, p. 6).
He wrote thus: “Some pupils have resorted to drinking alcohol, smoking and prostitution…they hide from parents, teachers and friends, but they will not be able to hide from the misery that comes as a consequence of their delinquent behaviour. I urge all pupils to concentrate on their education and resist peer pressure.”
Mr Munyemesha and Ms Lizzy P represent all good and concerned parents that we have in the land. Both have underscored one important point: first and foremost, an individual must make decisions based on what is best for him or her.
This means taking ownership and being responsible for what you do and how you think. Though it’s natural to strive to live up to other people’s expectations, it’s important that one is mindful of negative forces that may come from all directions to pull him or her down.
But because ‘no man or woman is an island’, being an individual also means you can, in a way, be a valued part of a comfortable and welcoming group. So to manage peer pressure, the first step is to have the courage to say ‘no’. Though this may be hard – at least when everyone knows you feel good for sticking with what you believe in – it creates a positive atmosphere for others who think as you do within the group.
That inner strength and self-confidence that is built can help one to stand firm, walk away, and resist doing the wrong thing. Parents and teachers advise children to “choose your friends wisely” because they are fully aware of the devastating effects of peer pressure.
Thanks to Ms Lizzy P, who has reminded us that it’s possible for every person, including young ones, to stay away from peers who want to pressure them to do things they know are wrong. Let’s tell the children, “Not those bad friends,…find good ones to pal around with.” 0977828252

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