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Peer groups

peer; pressure; positive; negative; influence; group; friend; safe; danger; dares; network ;


Nowadays we often hear about peer groups and how peers influence people. Everyone in  the world belongs to a peer group. They are not only for kids. The size of your peer group will vary depending on where you are or who you are with. Remember that peer groups are made up of individuals and that you are an individual with the right to have your own opinions, to feel safe and to respect other people's rights too.

What is a peer group?

Your peers are other people just like you.

  • Children your age.
  • Children in your class.
  • Children in your year level.
  • Friends outside school.
  • Children in the groups you join, eg. scouts, youth/church groups, sports clubs and teams.

When people talk about peer groups they often use the phrase "Peer Group Pressure" [PGP] and how it can influence:

  • the way you dress
  • the way you behave
  • body imagethe way you think
  • the music, games and TV programs you like
  • the way you live your life now
  • the way you might live in the future
  • the kind of adult you become.

Peer group pressure can be a very powerful force.

Most times when we hear about PGP it is because someone is giving it as an excuse for behaving badly or getting into trouble.

peer groups

Remember who your peers are? People just like you.

You can make decisions for yourself, just as your peers can!

Peer group pressure is a powerful force, but you can choose whether it is a good or bad influence on your life.

What does peer group pressure look like?

There are two types of peer group pressure - positive and negative.

peer group pressure
Positive is the sort of influence that gets people involved in things they can feel proud about and makes them feel good about themselves.
Unfortunately, the one we hear most about is the negative, usually because of the bad things that happen as a result of this kind of pressure. peer group pressure

How to recognise positive PGP

People can influence others in a positive way by:

  • friendsSaying positive things.
  • Encouraging others to try.
  • Accepting people's differences.
  • Getting involved in positive group activities at school.
  • Caring about the feelings of others.
  • Caring about the safety of others.
  • Using good manners.
  • Using appropriate language.
  • Getting involved in positive out of school activities eg sport, music, youth groups.
  • Talking about, 'authority' figures [parents, teachers, police] as people to go to for care, help and guidance.

You can choose to be part of a group where you will feel safe, valued and supported by the others in the group. If you are not a 'group' person you will still have the support of others in this group if you behave in the same way.

How to recognise negative PGP

People can influence people in a negative way by:

  • Making negative comments.
  • Making people feel bad about themselves.
  • negative PGPUsing 'put downs'.
  • Picking on people's differences.
  • Not trying in school.
  • Discouraging others from trying.
  • Teasing and harassing others.
  • Bullying.
  • Threatening others.
  • Calling people names.
  • Daring others to do unsafe things or things which could get them into trouble.
  • Being rude and bad mannered.
  • Using inappropriate language.
  • Not considering the feelings of others.
  • Not thinking about the consequences of what you or others are doing.
  • Not involved in positive out-of-school activities.
  • Seeing 'authority' figures as 'the enemy'.

No one is perfect all the time but everyone needs to be able to recognise a situation that could lead to trouble or danger. 

Remember:  kids who do things that make others feel bad or get into trouble are not good friends!


peer groups

Dare you to bash up that guy.
I thought it would be cool,
It turned out he was strong
And he hit me with a stool.
They'd said that he was weak,
I guess I was a fool.
I reckon I'll think twice next time.
When I try to look real cool.

It is much stronger and braver to say "no" to a dare that could hurt someone, or get you into trouble, than to just do what someone dares you to.


Sometimes older kids get involved in gangs and do things like stealing or harassing other kids. You might like to look at our topic Gangs to find out more about ways to avoid problems with gangs.

If any of your friends are involved in illegal activities it is not 'dobbing' to talk about this with a trusted adult. You will be helping your friends to avoid getting into big trouble.

Dr Kate says

Dr Kate"Remember 2 'rules' you have probably learned at school.

  1. Everyone has the right to feel safe all the time.
  2. Nothing is so awful that you can't talk with someone about it.

If you've heard of these 'rules' then you will know about:

  • Finding a group of people whom you trust and can rely on to help keep you safe.
  • Telling some of your trusted adults about your problems so that you are not trying to deal with them on your own."
  • Getting in tune with your body. If your body is giving you 'danger' signals (eg your tummy feels fluttery or sick, you're sweating, feeling cold and shaky, your heart beating faster) then it is telling you to think again and keep yourself safe. Our topic 'Peer group pressure' will tell you more about this.
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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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