Along with your family, your peers are probably some of the most important people in your life. Your peers are your friends, your crushes, your classmates, and your boyfriends/girlfriends. Many of your peers impact your life in a positive way, but sometimes they can have a negative or even dangerous influence on your life and how you make decisions.
Have you ever gone to a party and had a friend tell you to have a drink? Did they tell you that you were lame for not wanting to drink or talk about you behind your back? Did you do that to one of your friends?
Well, that’s peer pressure and it is a VERY strong tool to convince people to do things they are not comfortable doing. Being alienated from a social group can be traumatizing, especially as a young person. Peer pressure makes people do things they are uncomfortable doing because it’s a better alternative than being made fun of or considered “different”. Do you really want to make your friends feel that way? Do you want your friends to make you feel that way? Probably not.
When it comes to sex, you might feel pressure from your friend group to start having sex or to engage in sexual activity that you aren’t comfortable with. It’s normal to feel like everyone is having sex. The reality is, only 30% of teens have had sex by age 16 and only 48% of teens have had sex by age 17. If you aren’t ready for sex – whether it’s oral, vaginal, or anal sex – no one has the right to pressure you.
No one has the right to make you feel ashamed or embarrassed if you have had sex either! “Slut shaming” is a term you may have heard of – when individuals (usually girls) are made to feel guilty about certain sexual behaviors. Slut-shaming is NEVER okay. Using birth control and protecting yourself from getting or sharing an STD is part of being a responsible person.