Social Issues

Social issues during the teenage years can have long lasting effects. This article has information on some of the social issues teens are faced with today and tips on how to deal with social issues and personal problems such as peer pressure and bullying.

There are many discussions of social issues that affect teenagers. But I’ve never seen one that seeks to help clarify that one of the most important aspects of social issues for teenagers is learning to identify when something is a social issue and when something is a minor interpersonal problem that is one of the upsets of life that everyone learns to deal with.

Peer pressure and bullying are two of the two social issues that teens deal with quite often, so let’s take examples that touch on those issues.

If teen X says to teen Y, “I’m going to Jimmy’s after school, and I want you to come. Please, please, please,” is this an example of peer pressure? It’s not immediately clear. If teen Y has been promising to visit their mutual friend, Jimmy, with teen X, but has begged off the last two times, then no. If Jimmy’s is a bar and teen X has been trying to get teen Y to join teen X in trying out alcohol, then yes.

The words can be exactly the same, and that’s where the need for discernment may come in. In both cases, teen Y may feel uncomfortable and pressured. But the pressure in the first case is partly a response to the way that teen Y has previously acted, and it is not encouragement to do something that is either something that teen Y doesn’t want to do or something that it would be wrong for teen Y to do. If teen Y feels bad, it may because of guilt, but it doesn’t make sense to analyze the first case as peer pressure, even if teen Y does feel bad.

Now let’s turn to an example that might be construed as bullying. Bullying is often defined as including ostracizing people and avoiding contact with them. It may include taking out of the way paths so as not to run into them, and not wishing to speak if the person who is bullying and the person who is being bullied meet.

Another case, though, when one teen may avoid another is after a break-up following a dating relationship. Teens are dating younger than younger and being intimate younger and younger. Teens have no idea how traumatic a break-up can be when they get involved, and they also do not have a lot of experience in coping afterwards.

The behavior of two teens who have recently ended a relationship may seem very like the behavior of a bully who is ostracizing someone. In addition to the behaviors already mentioned, the person being avoided may see that the person doing the avoiding speaks or whispers to companions if they come within sight of each other, but whereas bullies may be saying nasty things, a former boy- or girlfriend may simply be encouraging friends to hurry by or explaining why a meeting or conversation with the former romantic interest would be highly uncomfortable.

Parents can assist their teens by helping them understand the similarities and differences between these social issues and other behaviors that may seem similar but have critical differences. This can help students avoid misapprehending situations, and acting in ways they might later regret.

Related Article: Defiant Teen? >>