Two days ago in Chicago, a 16 year old boy tried to rob a police sergeant, and in the ensuing fight, was killed. His mom is struggling to understand what went wrong. This is what she asked herself:
What did he want? I did the best I could with the little we had. He wasn’t homeless. He wasn’t hungry. He wasn’t thrown out to fend for himself. So I just don’t understand.
He was just determined to hang with the wrong crowd and be part of the negative influences around him,” she said, adding that too many young men in the neighborhood are too focused on rap, gangs and “turning up,” or partying.
Peer pressure is real! It is natural, healthy and important for children to have and rely on friends as they grow and mature.
Peers can be positive and supportive. They can help each other develop new skills, or stimulate interest in books, music or extracurricular activities. However, peers can also have a negative influence. They can encourage each other to skip classes, steal, cheat, use drugs or alcohol, or become involve in other risky behaviors. The majority of teens with substance abuse problems began using drugs or alcohol as a result of peer pressure.
Kids often give in to peer pressure because they want to fit in. They want to be liked and they worry that they may be left out or made fun of if they don’t go along with the group.
The following are some tips to help kids deal with peer pressure:
- Stay away from peers who pressure you to do things that seem wrong or dangerous.
- Learn how to say “no,” and practice how to avoid or get out of situations which feel unsafe or uncomfortable.
- Spend time with other kids who resist peer pressure. It helps to have at least one friend who is also willing to say “no.”
- If you have problems with peer pressure, talk to a grown up you trust, like a parent, teacher or school counselor.
All of this is fine, but so far there is no reference to god or Jesus. You see Christians have an advantage. They have the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit in them. And this is very real! The Bible tells us that greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world. In other words, the influence of the Spirit of God in us, is more powerful than the influence of any friends, peer groups or even the devil himself.
How do we use this power then to not give in to peer pressure?
You should start by preparing yourself, so that you will be ready when peer pressure comes. Go through it in your mind many times, by imagining what your response will be when someone offers you xyz. What will you do and what will you say? Then when you have a plan, then pray to God and ask Him to help you when the moment comes. Every day pray and ask the Holy Spirit to be your strength. Every day, stay prayed up and read the Bible.
You will find that when the pressure comes, you can say No, walk away and God will deliver you. Remember – no-one can actually force you to do what you don’ t want to do.