One of the more effective ways of communicating the dangers of drugs to teens is via other teens, a type of positive peer pressure. In fact, one of the most successful programs for troubled teens is Teen Court, premised on teens judging and sentencing their peers.
A new study suggests that positive peer pressure, however, makes little headway in the presence of negative peer pressure. If the prevailing teen culture at a school or in a group is drug tolerant, their influence carries more weight than that of the teens who stay straight. Of course, it doesn’t help that MTV, Hollywood and teen celebrities throw their considerable weight on the side of drug abuse.
The Power of Peers
“Generally, our study emphasizes the power of peers. We found that social network-tailored prevention curricula can be very successful in achieving long-term behavioral changes in teenagers,” he added.
However, the study also found that students with a peer environment friendly for substance use did not benefit from the interactive program.
“Peer influence can go both ways, some students benefited because of the positive social influence of their friends while others were harmed by negative influence of their substance using peers,” concludes Valente.
“Programs that incorporate this type of interactive programming can be very effective, but they depend on how peer influence is channeled,” he added.”
By Ann Walker