Friends, cliques and peer pressure
Being part of a group is an important part of growing up and helps you develop your relationship and communication skills. It helps you feel like you belong and gives you opportunities to learn about yourself and others.
In some friendship circles there may be one thing in common, for example an interest in a type of sport, fashion or music. People feel relaxed and welcome in the group.
Some young people may be part of several different types of groups as their interests grow or change.
Other groups or ‘cliques’ can have a strict membership code and may restrict people from joining. They may be more about being popular and the group itself may decide they are ‘cooler’ or better than others.
When people are in a clique, they tend to do everything together and may refuse to let other or ‘new’ people be part of their circle. There may be one person who seems to be the ‘leader’ and what he or she says goes.
People in cliques may jeer at others, humiliate people or choose to exclude. The ‘rules’ of the clique may be kept hidden from outsiders.
Maybe now that you have read about cliques, you realise that you are part of one.
In a ‘healthy’ friendship group:
- You feel accepted for who you are.
- You can have your own opinion.
- You can enjoy different types of activities together and have a laugh.
- There aren’t strict ‘rules’.
- People are fair and respectful of others.
If you think you have become part of a clique, maybe its time to leave it and find a group that has less rules and which is more fun to be part of. By leaving a clique, you will have opportunities to meet new friends and try out new things.
What's the difference between teasing and taunting?
We are only having a laugh! So what is the difference between ‘joking’ and ‘jeering’?
There is a big difference between having a laugh with someone and taunting someone.
A bit of teasing, slagging or joking between people is fine but only if it is not meant to be hurtful and all people involved are laughing. If teasing turns into taunting then it needs to stop.
For all teenagers, feeling accepted and part of a group is important. Your peers (people the same age / school year / group) can influence you in many ways and you may have similar tastes in music, fashion or pastimes.
Your peers can be positive role models in your life, a friend who has goals and dreams may inspire you to have your own goals. Sometimes, however, within a group people can feel pressure to ‘fit in’. You may be pressured to break the rules or try something out, such as smoking or drinking alcohol.
Your friends should accept you for who you are and respect the positive choices you make.
With peer pressure, people will say things like ‘Come on, everyone's doing it’ or ‘What are you afraid of? No one will find out.’ While you may feel the ‘pressure’, your peers should be able to accept it when you say no.
If you feel forced into something or threatened if you don't join in then this is bullying. If you are excluded from a group because you won't join in this is also a type of bullying.