Cool to be Kind: Can Positive Peer Pressure Combat Bullying?

Peer pressure is inevitably a big part of today’s teen’s life. Be it a school or a burger joint, they are in one way or the other affected by peer pressure. A teen’s output is the first thing on which the impact of peer pressure can be seen. But for some unfortunate teens the brunt of peer pressure transforms their whole outlook on life. The urge to follow the crowd and the need to do what the majority is doing forces them to take part in activities they wouldn’t otherwise. However, recent studies have shown that positive peer pressure might be a boon to the victims of ruthless bullying. Let’s examine how positive peer pressure works and the influence it has on a bullied teen’s confidence and personality:

Using positive peer pressure as a tool to fight bullying

The brains of teenagers are still growing and they take influences from several sources. One of them is their peers with whom they interact the most. Teens tend to follow the crowd. That’s why when Mathew set out to fight against bullying at his younger brother Josh's middle school, he thought of positive peer pressure as the most effective tool.

A couple of years ago, when Josh came crying from his school, Mathew felt he needed to do something to save his self-confidence from shattering. Without an example, he started the O.N.E. project in Josh’s middle school. The project included several activities like students forming a human chain and passing a hula hoop around while getting to know each other, in order to find the link between peer pressure and bullying. Mathew and other responsible high school students talked to the younger kids about bullying, turning the conversation towards a phrase the volunteers were adamant to bring to life: ‘What if it is cool to be kind?’

Peer pressure tends to exclude students from the clique at school, leaving them to be an easy target for low self-esteem and confidence. Mathew used peer pressure in a positive way at Josh’s school, to include kids instead of excluding them.

Apart from the fun activities, the O.N.E. project also encourages students to talk about themselves through more serious exercises. Middle schoolers sit in a circle and each student is given 90 seconds to talk about themselves by filling the blanks of a sentence: "When others see me, they think _____. But if they really knew who I am _____."

Dealing with high school bullying

Mathew found that activities like these were very effective at Josh’s middle school. Educators and responsible teens throughout the country are taking practices like this to put an end to schoolyard bullying with the help of positive peer pressure. Peer pressure can be used in a positive way through these activities at primary and middle schools but it is not that easy to use peer pressure positively in high schools.

Responsible teens in high schools can use positive peer pressure as a tool to fight bullying. Bullies in high schools target the weaker links. Responsible teens in high schools can make a difference by talking to their friends about the problems they face at school and their self-esteem issues. When victims of bullying are backed by their friends, they can gradually develop the confidence to stand up for themselves. Teens seeking to fight against bullying can advise their victimized friends to talk to an adult.

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