Tough Not To Give In To Peer Pressure

Zhang Dong is a chain smoker, heavy drinker, and frequent class cutter, and misses his high school reputation as "a good student". The Shanghai University freshman attributes his lifestyle to peer pressure. It's been a big headache for him since beginning campus life in early September.

"I could stay away from these 'bad actions,'" he said. "But then I'd be staying away from my friends as well."

Zhang says that without peer pressure he would never have taken that first drag on a cigarette.

Zhang and his friends were sitting around on campus chatting one night when one pulled out a pack of cigarettes and passed it around.

Everyone - except Zhang - took one. Finally, after much pressure, he decided to take one too.

"It tasted so bad that I puffed quickly," he recalls. But he did feel that he had become part of the all-male group thanks to it.

For Zhang, the peer pressure is everywhere, from smoking to drinking to cutting classes.

"If I were to show up in class, some of my friends would make fun of me and call me a coward," he explains.

Because of this, he usually gives in to peer pressure to be liked and fit in. "It's sad that you have to act in a certain way, do a certain thing or even look a certain way," he comments.

This "friendship" has clearly changed Zhang's life. If Zhang had hung out with a different group of people though, would it have made a difference?

It would have, according to Che Hongsheng, a psychology professor at Beijing Normal University, who says Zhang could have developed a better, more studious lifestyle this way.

"The easiest way to deal with peer pressure," Che believes, "is to hang out with friends who make the right choices most of the time." Another way to deal with it is to plan ahead.

"Make up your mind about things you want to stay away from, ahead of time," he says. "Plan about what you can do, if a circumstance when you need to make a choice does occur." Enditem

SOURCE FROM: Chinadaily.com.cn October 30