As adults, we obviously know that it doesn’t matter at all whether you fit in or not. You’re free to be who you are, or at least, hopefully, you feel that way. For young people though, it’s not easy to see beyond school life. That’s something that only comes with age. Cutting through the social aspects of school, to enable young people to concentrate on their education, can be challenging.
The pressure to conform can be pretty exhausting. I am sure you remember the social pressures of school, trying to fit in, worrying about whether you’re cool enough or wearing the right clothes. Much of a young person’s time at school is spent worrying about social constructs because ‘not fitting in’ can feel like the end of world when you’re a teenager.
There can be positive peer pressure in school. For example, being influenced to join the hockey team or drama club. However, there is also negative peer pressure. This could look like being encouraged to take part in risky behaviour like criminal activity.
Research has found that young people who have an unstable home life are much more susceptible to negative peer pressure. If they don’t feel supported and loved at home, they’ll find a way to feel supported, even if that support is a gang . One Home Office study found that being excluded from school leads to a large proportion of children being recruited by gangs, as the gangs have a tendency to target pupil referral units .
Young people lacking in confidence are also particularly vulnerable to outside influences. They find it hard to believe in themselves and will struggle without the right help . Therefore, supporting them to make the right choices when it comes to negative peer pressure can be vital if they are to avoid the school to prison pipeline. See our previous blog about this here
How can we change this?
At Say It With Your Chest we empower young people to be the best version of themselves. We teach young people that their peers do not hold power over them. To stand up for themselves and develop their own voices, so that they can be heard without shouting. We aim to instil a quiet confidence into young people, that they can carry with them for the rest of their lives. Our Switch Ambassador programme can help your young people.
 The Times article ‘Exclusions from school drive rising gang crime’ by John Simpson, Will Humphries and Rosemary Bennett, 2018 https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/exclusions-from-school-drive-rising-gang-crime-pjm5jv3hs