Does Peer Pressure Influence Underage Drinking? Con

Marina Allen

D.A.R.E, Think First, Healthy Choices, Planned Parenthood, and overly manipulative anti-drug/alcohol commercials all proclaim that saying “no”, or walking away is the best and only way to navigate illegal substances. Teens, according to adults, are pressured by their peers and, in many circumstances, this proves to be true. However, thanks to those adults who so wisely guide us in the right direction, peer pressure, in regards to drinking, serves not to be a problem for the majority of Miramonte students.

“I’m not sure that the programs we went through helped. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that saying no isn’t a big deal. If my friend doesn’t want to drink, I’m not going to be mad. That’s not what happens,” says an anonymous Senior boy.

It is almost insulting watching sensationalized ad campaigns against drugs/alcohol where the “victim” of criminal behavior is corrupted by a juvenile delinquent. In this redundant plot which alternates the same basic ending, including a younger sibling corrupted after seeing his/her older sibling accepting the substance, a crying mother, or a disappointed friend leave teens stamped with the illusion that we all are subject to peer pressure. Saying no is not a problem for students at Miramonte. The problem is that drinking is fun.

Due to recent circumstances, our community has been pushing abstinence from drinking. Students have witnessed their peers receive severe consequences including DUI and suspension. Society prohibits underage drinking, and because of that, teens want it. Teen drinking is hardly a problem in countries where drinking isn’t taboo, as it is in our puritanical culture.

“’I drink, but my decision in drinking is not biased by my friends. If I say no, they don’t mind, they’re still my friends,” says an anonymous junior girl.

Sally and Sam are students at Miramonte and are at a raging party. If Sally asks Sam if he wants a beer, and Sam says no, Sally will not dismiss him and think him “uncool.” Sally will carry on her conversation with Sam because Sally respects Sam’s decision.

Miramonte can thank the community for Sam’s action and Sally’s reaction.

Parties are a part of high school, and by extension, so is drinking. But, for those at home, it is not what you imagine. There are not 50 handles and 10 kegs to supply 2,000 kids with red plastic cups. There is no geek trying to impress the rebel. The people who drink choose to drink and are not pressured by their friends.
But the line becomes foggy between pressure and persuasion. Yes, Sam can say no-but he doesn’t because he sees how much fun Sally is having while she drinks.

The problem then lies in alcohol itself and accessibility, not the environment or desire for social acceptance.

This may be giving too much credit to Miramonte students, but ultimately pressure depends on the level of security felt in one’s social standing. Friends don’t let friends feel uncomfortable in choosing to say no at Miramonte.