Nina (age 13): Peer pressure to me is when you kind of feel like you have to do something, you have to get something.
Sam (age 13): I’ve been peer pressured before but not to do anything dangerous. Just, like, one friend wants me to go with him and the other one wants me to catch a bus with him. And that can be a bit awkward.
Mary (mother of David, 12): Say if he knows two of his friends are going to another friend’s place, and he’s not going, he really notices that, and gets quite emotional or upset about it. Or something in class, if there’s little groups that form and he’s not in that. Umm, so it’s peer... I guess it’s peer pressure in a way but it’s when he’s not in there that he feels the peers aren’t accepting, or whatever, of him.
Nina: Some groups they have to all have, like, matching pencil cases and that kind of thing. Most of the time it’s technology stuff so... I do kind of think we have a bit of pressure to get... as soon as you get to high school you need mobile phones.
Ted (father of Nina, 13): There’s a bit of pressure to... either, I don’t know if it was to have the mobile, but it was certainly to have the iPod and be up there with the music and... She didn’t have an iPod, this particular group of friends did, so they were up with all the music, and she was not there so she was seen as being a bit uncool and we kind of questioned the value of those friends...
David (age 12): People have been excluding people because they can’t do something, and so they work so hard at it, and they get pressured so much to do it, so that they can become in their group or something.
Ted: She had some real soul searching in terms of what did friendships mean and, you know, we kind of thought, well, how shallow or real are her friends? That’s what it all kind of comes down to.
Mary: With David, I don’t think he has a lot of influence from peers at the moment. I expect that might come, more. He’s still enthusiastic to try everything so, if he hears that it might be good to be in the choir, they’re doing something fun, he’ll go in the choir, even if his best friends aren’t. Or if he wants to play the trumpet, he thinks that looked cool somewhere, so he’ll go and join the concert band, whether [or not] other friends are – he doesn’t have to do it as a group.
Smriti (age 14): All of us are quite comfortable where we are and I don’t think we need to – we don’t feel the need to – conform to any other kind of rules.
Mary: And he said ‘Well, so-and-so went and saw that,’ and I think, well, yep, maybe they did. That doesn’t mean to say we have to let you do it, that sort of thing. But it’s not a topic that’s often talked about – that sort of thing of ‘all the others are doing this, why can’t I?’ I can imagine it getting more though, in the next few years.
Ted: It’s very much dependent on the kids. Some kids were happy within themselves and went off and did their own thing and didn’t seem to have... didn’t seem to go through that kind of, you know, identity crisis kind of stuff or need to feel part of the bigger group, so they were more individuals.
Oscar (age 15): I definitely do my own thing. I don’t care, like, I don’t care what other people do or say, so if I want to... if I don’t want to get drunk, I don’t get drunk.
Smriti: Some people want to be so cool, that they will go to these sort of lengths to do that, and I think... it’s really quite sad.
Mary: You can think for yourself; you don’t have to follow them. Umm, and all of those, sort of, clichés: ‘If so-and-so walked off a cliff, would you walk off a cliff?’ That type of thing. Umm, and then I guess just asking: ‘What do you really want to do?’ or ‘Why do you want to do that?’ So... I guess we haven’t gone through and thought about it and worked it out but they’re just the little things. ‘Do you really want to do that? Have you got time to do that? Do you like doing that?’ But we haven’t really got a philosophy of how to combat that other than saying, you know, ‘You’re smart enough to think for yourself.’