Today on the way to work I was chatting with fellow colleagues who are also fellow mums. We discussed that you must never dismiss or underestimate how children and young people may feel when things within their peer group go wrong. Or right. One of the ladies I was chatting with said that her daughter had a wicked time at prom, and this made her happy as her daughter’s peer group had treated her badly several months ago and there was talk of her daughter not even attending prom. We also reflected that it is also good for young people to see how quickly life can change and develop over time.
This got me thinking about the power of peers.
Now, I know I am biased, but my daughter is stunning. I swear down. She has the most beautiful hair. Her eyes are large. Clear and blue. She is funny. And …yer, I am gonna put it out there, I think she may be a genius.
For the past 9 months she HATES having her photo taken and refuses to smile if you do make her have a photo. She hates the way she looks. This is all down to bullying from her peers 9 months ago. God knows what they said to her as my daughter only told me some stuff but the words ugly, rubbish hair and big nose were use quite often. My daughter asked me if she was fat when the bullying was at its worst.
She is 9.
She is loved at home. My goodness, I am her no 1 fan and I big her up always. Strangers have stopped us often in the street to compliment her hair. She often has us cracking up because she is very funny. She knows what the longest word in the English language is and what it means.
But none of that matters because, for the moment, the power of the peer’s over rides all that.
I sat with a young man today and we spent a very long time talking about the dangers and consequences of knifes. This was not a 5-minute chat. We went in deep with case studies and looking at the law. We spoke about how his mum would feel if she had to bury her only son or watch him go to jail. This young man knew exactly what was what. At the end I asked him one question. I asked him that if his peer group, his gang if you want, asked to him to carry a knife…would he?
He said yes. He did not hesitate, and he did not need to think this through. I asked him why and he said that if he said no then he would be putting himself in danger anyway.
The Power of the peer.
So, I guess my message today is simply don’t play down or underestimate what our children and young people may be feeling within their peer group, as that is their life. A very large part of their everyday life. Of course, there are extremely positive aspects of peer power. Today I also managed to change a groups mind on what consent is because I managed to get through to some of the more senior members and then they applied peer power when trying to get their point across.
Peer power…. It can have a life changing impact.