"Everyone needs to belong -- to feel connected with others and be with others who share attitudes, interests, and circumstances that resemble their own. People choose friends who accept and like them and see them in a favorable light." (Lebelle, 1999).
Middle school is a tough time. There are numerous changes occurring internally and externally amongst children in this age group. Boys and girls are maturing physically at rapid paces, but their emotional maturation is a lot slower. This can cause problems. Most young adolescents desire adult treatment, because they are beginning to look like adults, but, on the inside, they are still easily influenced children. Teens are desperate to fit in with their peers at school and will go to extremes to do so. This can be good and bad.
Positive peer influence can "encourage such desirable qualities as truthfulness, fairness, cooperation, and abstinence form drugs and alcohol." (Ormrod).
On the other hand, negative peer influence can "encourage aggression, criminal activity, and other antisocial behaviors" (Ormrod). Illegal drug and alcohol use, promiscuity, bullying, and loss of identity can all result from negative peer pressure. Teachers need to be educated about these things. They need to know what occuring outside of their classrooms is in order to make a difference inside their classrooms.
Cliques play a key role in both positive and negative peer influence. Depending on which clique a child belongs to, he could become an honor student who never tries drugs or alcohol or he could become an alcohol or drug abuser, a bully, or he could become promiscuous which could lead to STD's or teen parenting. There is a hierarchy when it comes to cliques. The popular kids are at the very top. These students are usually nice-looking, well-dressed, and involved with athletics and clubs. Those...