2 October 2018
Adolescents, Peer Pressure, and Crime
Adolescence is a time of exploration and new found freedom; a time for children to explore their identities and values. It is a time when adolescents spend one third of their day speaking with others and within that one third, spend three times more time with friends then with family or adults (Warr 12). During this time adolescents often find groups that they identify with; they also begin to make long lasting friendships with their peers. adolescents are beginning to think for themselves and find a place in this world ; adolescents are also fragile canvases that allow their peers to draw/carve out their identities. An adolescent’s canvas can be cracked or reinforced, colored or dulled based on the choices an adolescent or their peer’s make. Peer pressure influences this adolescent’s choices. The intention of this paper is to find out to what extent negative peer pressure becomes a risk factor for adolescents to commit crimes.
Peer pressure can create troubling social problems for an adolescent. An example of this is when a child develops “the copycat syndrome” (Esiri 10). This syndrome, as described by Dr. Esiri, is when “a child desires the same kind of toys, wears the same kind of clothes, eats the same kind of food, shares eating habits, shares favourite television programmes…and even shares bed times with peers (Esiri 10). At this point parents find it difficult to control their child because their values and opinions “supersede those of the parents” (Esiri 10). When an adolescent moves away from their parent’s values, they can begin to develop anti social behaviour and begin to commit crimes.
Most crimes that adolescents commit are when they are in a group. Being part of a group is important for a child’s development. It is often made up of peers or “associates of the same age” (Warr, 11), and they often have conversations: gossip, sports, light hearted subjects, that often bring peers closer with each other (Akers 13). This closeness can also have a negative affect. An adolescent’s identity is the group and whatever the group does, they are inclined to do it. This can lead to bad habits and bad decision making.
Fear of ridicule is one way of getting adolescents to join in on an illegal activity. Mark Warr, Author of Companions in Crime: the Social Aspects of Criminal Conduct, goes on to explain that “risking ridicule...in effect, risks [an adolescents] very identity (Warr 49). This can mean the destruction of the already fragile canvas of a child’s livelihood. This can be reason alone why a child chooses to commit a crime with his or her peer group. In a group, a model is established, one where the groups’ identity is born. Gossip, another form of ridicule can be just another way of keeping adolescents “inline” with the group’s identity. Adolescents are rewarded and punished if they do not fit the model.
Along with the fear...