People in your age group (peers) influence your life whether you realize it or not. When interacting with other people you teach them and also learn from them, that’s just human nature.

Peer pressure can be a positive and it can be a negative, depending on the influence.

It's OK to say NO!

Positive peer pressure

Positive peer pressure is when a group stands up against a bully to stop his attack on his latest victim, or your team mate showing you a tricky move they know.

Negative peer pressure

The problem is that kids your age WANT to fit in and to be liked. It is tough to be the only one who says “no” to negative peer pressure. It is very easy to just give in and go along. But is it the right thing to do? There is no magic to withstand negative peer pressure but it does take courage.

Listen to your instincts.

If you feel uncomfortable, then that is your subconscious brain’s way of telling you that what ever is going on is not your thing.

Plan ahead.

Say you want to go to this party but you know there will be drinking and drugs there. Plan ahead and rehearse in your mind what you will say and do when somebody offers you a drink or drugs. Even holding on to a bottle of water or pop will be enough to lower the possibility of being offered an alcoholic beverage.

Consider using a safe word with your parents.

Your mom and dad won’t mind if your friends think they are strict as long as they know it is helping you make positive choices. When you use the safe word (or phrase) with your parents, they will know that you are at a place where alcohol and/or drugs are being provided and they can INSIST on coming to get you. This way, you don’t lose face in front of everybody.

For example: you call to check in from the party and during the call you pass the safe phrase “I saw Uncle Joe today” Your parents know to come and get you or arrange for you to come home.

Be OK with saying “no”.

Your true friends will be alright with you saying no and not having to explain why. If you find that you need an excuse for turning down a drink or smoke you can always say “I got really sick last time and now I can’t even stand the smell of the stuff”.

Hang with people who have the same feeling you do.

Even one other person standing with you against negative peer pressure makes it much easier for both of you to resist.

Blame your parents, they don’t mind.

“Are you kidding? If my mom found out, she’d kill me, and her spies are everywhere”


If a situation seems dangerous or people are being hurt don’t wait to get an adult’s help. When you are in doubt, an adult may be the best person to get advice. Consider your parents, teachers, counselors or the officers at Kids ‘N Cops.

It’s not always easy to resist negative peer pressure, but when you do, it is easy to feel good about yourself afterwards. You will be a positive influence on your friends. Consider yourself a leader, and know that you have the potential to make a difference.

Sherry Heyder
Thunder Bay Police