Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Dreads Media

Dealing with peer pressure


The social media has not quietened over the FBI’s list of some 80 foreigners, mostly Nigerians, suspected to have committed internet fraud in the United States. The list has been followed by various videos of some of the suspects spending money in a profligate manner.  I personally saw three of such videos – one of a purported baby shower in which the supposed pregnant woman who was seated was surrounded by men spraying so much money that the floor was a carpet of dollars.  The second video had a couple dancing amidst confetti of dollars showered by some men.  The third video, the most bizarre, showed a baby, probably six months old, reclining on a bed with bundles of 100 dollar bills around her.  A male tells the baby in Igbo to ‘march’ on the money as she had ‘entered’ a good life.



Discussing the issue with a friend, she said many of the suspects must have been pushed to evil by peer pressure.  This got me thinking about whether there was a scientific way of dealing with peer pressure and how parents and schools could prepare young people early to resist negative peer pressure.  If children are sensitised about peer pressure early in life from their homes, and the lessons are reinforced in schools, perhaps we would have fewer young people being lured into social vices in the name of conformity.

Having a sense of belonging is big deal to young people and it is important that they learn from home to be content with whatsoever things they have.  It is the adults themselves, parents or others in the family or neighbourhood, who are responsible for teaching these values.  Children should not only learn to be content but respect others for their differences. The differences may be in income, intellect, physical attributes, ethnic, cultural or religious orientation.   I believe if a child learns to respect the uniqueness of others around him compared to who he is, he would appreciate, rather than be jealous of them and lured to bad behaviour.  Parents should start early to teach children not to laugh at others for being awkward, weaker, thinner, fatter, shorter or something different from the social norm.  That way, others would not be pressured into doing things that go against their values.

In school teachers who call pupils names in the classroom for being slower in their work, or unable to answer questions, or shabby, or clumsy, do not also help matters.  The name calling is usually taken outside the classroom situation and exaggerates the way such child is different from others.  It makes it easier for others to gang up against the victim and make him/her vulnerable to doing whatever may make him/her more acceptable.

To cope with peer pressure, a website, Parentsandteens.com, advises young people to be clear about their values – what they hold dear – on which they base their decisions.  If a decision to do something goes against their values, they should learn that it is okay to be different.  However, the site notes that it is not always easy going against what others seem to agree with – in other words, it is not easy saying no.  It advises teenagers to say ‘No’ only when they mean it; and should they be unsure seek time to think about the matter or offer an alternative.  Another website, https://www.accreditedschoolsonline.org/resources/peer-pressure/ urges adults to help out young people dealing with peer pressure by counseling them or stepping up to save them if need be.

One story I find instructive about peer pressure was shared by the CEO of Flying Doctors Nigeria, Dr Ola Orekunrin-Brown at the Master class organised for 81 finalists of the InterswitchSPAK 2.0 science quiz and TV show last week. Dr Orekunrin-Brown shared how she longed to be cool and popular during her high school days in the UK, but was just an outsider who others regarded as a nerd in glasses.  It was so bad that she said had no date for her prom despite there being eight more boys in her class than girls.  Now, many years later, she is a successful CEO of a medical emergency transportation company.  Her rejection back then has had no bearing on her success today.  She advised the young people to always stay true to their values and learn think about the future – beyond whatever is giving them pressure.

To wrap it up, I would advise young people to learn to love themselves and develop a sense of humour that can survive even the most ridiculous of situations.  I think it would be easier to survive laughing with and at those laughing at you to the point that it takes the sting out of the situation than crying and giving them the pleasure of causing you pain.   I would also advise young people to use their heads and think beyond the embarrassment of not doing a dare.  Trying to fulfil a dare has led many to their deaths.  It is simply not worth it.

• Dealing with peer pressure
by Kofoworola Belo-Osagie  



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