Bullying Evolved
Bullying Evolved
January 15, 2016
Skin Deep
Skin Deep
January 15, 2016
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Peer Pressure in High School

Peer pressure during this age range takes on new meaning because teens survive and thrive in a social world filled with social influence.

Peer opinions take on new meaning in that their opinions are the only ones that matter. Evolutionary, this serves a tremendous purpose in preparing your teen for adulthood. And survival in the wild through reliance on peer supports. But in this day and age, survival means something very different. A clear social hierarchy emerges and kids intuitively know where they fit in with the crowd.

Many times, there is tremendous dissatisfaction with where they fit in and peer pressure can become very dangerous here. Teens may try to do anything in order to move up or down in the hierarchy. The pressure to conform to the norms can be hard to resist, especially if it means enjoying higher social status. The temptation to engage in risky behaviors is tremendous during this stage, not only because of peer pressure, but because risky behaviors act on the pleasure feedback loop making the positive sensations feel much more pleasurable.

Signs & Behaviors

  • Increase in risky behaviors
  • Drinking, experimenting with drugs, stealing, shoplifting, cigarette smoking
  • Sudden change in peer groups
  • Drop in school performance or hobbies and extracurricular activities
  • Sudden change in behaviors, choices, interests
  • Sudden change in clothing style, hair color, jewelry, accessories, where they shop, what they read, changes in the way they speak, the tone they use, mannerisms or phrases
  • Suddenly withdrawn, sullen or secretive
  • Begin showing interest in going places they have never been interested in before
  • Receiving phone calls, texts, messages or Facebook likes from individuals you have not heard of before


  • Be the bad guy—talk to them, set limits, enforce the rules, limit freedoms, pick them up, drop them off.
  • Be nonjudgmental and find out what is going on and the reason behind these changes.
  • Encourage outside interests as long as they have positive outcomes.
  • Show support and validation. Don’t attack or forbid; that will just make the situation worse.
  • Get to know their friends.
  • Keep providing education on topics such as drugs, sex and social media, but present in the long-term context and how these things will affect college applications, getting a job and moving forward.


  • “What do you like about your friend?”
  • “How do you think they felt when you ignored them?
  • “What would happen if you didn’t listen to them?”
  • “You seem to break the rules whenever you hang out with them. Why do you think that happens?”
  • “What are you getting out of this friendship?”
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