The Influence Of Socioeconomic Status And Peer Pressure On Adolescents’ Behavioural Patterns

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The Influence Of Socioeconomic Status And Peer Pressure On Adolescents’ Behavioural Patterns


A favourable atmosphere, in which adolescents behave positively, is one of the greatest concerns for teachers, administrators and parents. Although there are several different pressures leading to adolescent misbehaviour at school, the most contributing factors are peer pressure and the socio-economic status of the school. As adolescents enter the school, the peer group then functions as an important socializing agent for them. As peers socialize within their different school environments, individuals are forced to conform to the practices and opinions of the group. Usually this conformity is unconstructive and clashes with the parents’ and teachers’ expectations. The aim of this study was to examine the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescent behavioural pattern in schools and society at large. A quantitative methodological approach was used to conduct the study. The study was conducted with adolescents aged from 13 to 17 years in both secondary schools in Lagos. A sample of 300 participants was randomly stratified across the schools. The Exposure to Peer Pressure Control Scale (Allen & Yen, 2002) and Child Behaviour Checklist questionnaires (Achenbach &Edelbrock, 1987) were used to collect the data. Ethical considerations were carefully considered before and during the research procedure of data collection. The reliability of the instruments was checked by means of a pilot study. The data was analysed by means of the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18 to reveal descriptive and inferential statistics. Results showed a significant positive relationship between peer pressure and adolescent misbehaviour in schools. In addition, misbehaviour was also positively predicted in both advantaged and disadvantaged schools, with disadvantaged schools being significantly more influential. When comparing peer pressure and adolescent misbehaviours in both advantaged and disadvantaged schools, adolescents in disadvantaged schools engaged significantly more in misbehaviour activities and also responded positively more to peer pressure than their counterparts in advantaged schools. Implications for further research were suggested.

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Adolescence is the transitory period the individual passes through in his /her growth from childhood to Adulthood. Studies have shown that the period consists of pressure which may be either internal or external to the young adult (Adams, 2006 & Schneider, 2010). Besides being a transitory period, they posited that it is a time of self-definition for the young individual. The high-risk behaviors of adolescence are the result of multiple causes, often beginning in early childhood, that change with age and are interrelated in complex ways. These causes operate at ecological (e.g., socioeconomic status, neighborhood, cultural context, social-relational (e.g., family members, peers, teachers), and individual (e.g., genetic dispositional factors and temperamental characteristics, sex) levels, that unfold against the backdrop of biological, neuro-cognitive, and emotional maturation and shifts in age-related social-developmental processes.

Research in the past two decades has highlighted the central role of genetics as a major factor contributing to the most troubling and costly outcomes of adolescent risk-taking, including violence, criminal activity and substance use disorders (Jaffee, 2005; Taylor, Iacono, & McGue, 2000). However, there is mounting evidence that genetic influences on a variety of problem outcomes reflect a complex interplay between inherited and environmental risk, with genetic risk leading to pathological behavior for some youth only when the primary socializing environment also is adverse (Cadoret, Winokur, Langbehn, & Rroughton, 1996; Reiss & Leve, 2007; Tienari, 2004).

Families, socioeconomic status and peers, the most significant socializing contexts for the emergence of adolescents’ behavioural patterns, are the foci of this paper. Socioeconomic status on adolescents’ behavioural patterns can only be understood in light of the simultaneous influence of other socializing contexts, particularly the peer context that will be discussed in the next section, but also broader contextual conditions that add to, shape, and moderate the effect of the family (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000). Conditions such as family poverty, family income, parental education level, neighborhood violence, single parent family status, major family disruptions e.g., (divorce, death of a parent), and cumulative family adversities all have demonstrated effects to increase adolescents’ behavioural patterns (Amato & Keith, 1991; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997).

Parents are one of the most important and influential elements on the lives of their children. They have the power, ability to shape, sustain and develop their children’s who will be interested, creative and tolerant, through their positive involvement in the learning process and educational activities. On the other hand parents who do not involve in their children educational process are also considered to be capable of repressing and destroying the motivation and ability of their children through neglect and indifference to their achievements. “A child’s capability to succeed in school depends on how successfully the child is managed by his /her parents in the home environment. It is an environment where the child learns the skills, attitudes and behavior which could mould them into a productive and successful student.

However, not every child comes from a home that could provide them with the requisite educational resources necessary for their academic success. In accordance with that, a parent’s socioeconomic status plays an important role in providing these educational resources and it appears to impose the greatest impact on the child’s educational outcomes”( Vellymalay, 2012). Socioeconomic status has a relatively strong impact on parental involvement compared to other factors. However, there is a question as to how far the strength of the parent’s socioeconomic status could inspire a child to achieve academic success.

Parental involvement has a positive impact on student achievement at all socioeconomic levels, though involvement is probably more important for low socioeconomic schools, as they are more likely to have lower test scores and graduation rates. “Regardless of income, ethnicity or background, students with involved parents are more likely to earn higher grades and test scores, have better attitudes, behavior and attendance, and graduate and go onto additional education.

Higher parental involvement is associated with higher educational expectations, enrollment in gifted and talented programs, and positive perceptions of school”(Henderson, 1988). While parent involvement positively affects a student’s academic achievement, low Socioeconomic families are least likely to be involved in their students’ education (Turney & Kao, 2009; Ratcliff & Hunt, 2009; Van Velsor & Orozco,2007; Machen, Wilson, & Notar, 2005; Abdul-Adil & Farmer, 2006). Low Socioeconomic families are often working all of the time to take care of their families, and they have no time to participate in their child’s education on campus (Ratcliff & Hunt, 2009). Based on a study involving low socioeconomic mothers, mothers want to be involved in their child’s education, but the other problem is that they are less comfortable around teachers, and so they do not get involved (Machen, Wilson, &Notar, 2005).

In contemporary society, peer group influences have become increasingly pronounced and studies have shown that adolescents were more likely to increase behaviour that receives peer group approval (Arnett, 1992; De Vries, 1995; Allen, 2005; Clark & Loheac, 2007). Adolescents spend far more time in the exclusive company of their peers than their counter parts did in the past. Changes in the family roles that forced women into paid jobs have greatly reduced the quality time families spend together thus making peer groups a viable alternative for the young individuals (Clark & Loheac, 2007). Peer groups appear to answer adolescents concerns about many things including their changing bodies.

According to Schneider (2010) becoming a peer group member meets many adolescents concerns about social expectations such as developing independence from their parents, learning decision-making skills and acting on their own. However, these young teenagers find social expectations confusing and the ways of achieving them even more challenging. Peer influence on adolescents has been reported as being shrouded in myths and fear by parents. Parents perceive peer influence as a clog in the wheel of socializing their children desirably (Schneider, 2010). According to You (2011) perceived support from peers gives adolescent students a sense of motivation which enables them to see the importance of pursuing academic success This is because adolescents who are accepted by their peers are more likely to be psychologically healthier and self-confident than those rejected by their peers (Allen et al., 2005). However, Kiran-Esen (2012) reported significantly negative relationship between peer pressure and self-efficacy expectation (social and moral) in adolescents and that academic self-efficacy was higher in adolescents who were experiencing low level of peer pressure.

There are a variety of negative health indicators that show a peek during adolescence, namely homicide rates, non-intentional injuries, driving under alcohol effect or infection by sexually-transmitted diseases (Mulye, Park, Neson, Irwin & Brindis, 2009). Experimenting substances also occurs usually during adolescents, a time of development in which tolerance is lower and the risk of dependency increases (Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010). Peers and family have a key role in promoting health during adolescence, as well as, the perception that youngsters have of their quality of life and subjective well-being. Health does not depend solely on the delivery of health care during illness; on the contrary, influence of different settings may be crucial (Gaspar & Matos, 2008). Behavioural problems that occur during infancy and adolescence (particularly external problems, such as substance use and violence behaviours) may continue throughout adulthood, associated to social non-adaptation, substance abuse and conflicts (Bongers, Koot, Van der Ende & Verhulst, 2008). The peer group may on one hand, serve as a model and influence behaviours and attitudes, whilst on the other hand, it may provide easy access, encouragement and an appropriate social setting for consumption (Glaser, Shelton & Bree, 2010).

Social Learning Theory suggests that it is not necessary for adolescents to observe a given behaviour and adopt it; it is sufficient to perceive that the peer group accepts it, in order to be able to opt for similar behaviours (Petraitis, Flay & Miller, 1995). Peers may strongly determine preference in the way of dressing, speaking, using illicit substances, sexual behaviour, adopting and accepting violence, adopting criminal and anti-social behaviours and in many other areas of the adolescent’s life (Padilla, Walker & Bean, 2009; Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008). An example of this is that the main motives for alcohol consumption given by adolescents are related to social events, which usually take place in the company of friends, namely: drinking makes holidays more fun, it facilitates approaching others; it helps relaxing or facilitates sharing experiences and feelings (Kuntsche, Knibbe, Gmel & Engels, 2005). Also, mimicking risk behaviours may be greater when consumption begins in the context of a social event (Larsen, Engels, Souren, Granic & Overbeek, 2010).

Adolescence is an extremely difficult period when the individual goes through various physical and mental changes. Children and young adults go through a lot of stress (Fontana, David and Slack, Ingrid, 1997). The pressure of school, meeting expectations of parents and teachers and planning out a career for themselves puts them under considerable strain and tension. These conditions are more often imposed upon them by adults. Added to this is the adolescents’ experience of its own intense feelings of joy, sorrow, fear, love, disappointment and anger. Relationships with friends are of utmost importance and success or failure in these interactions weighs heavily on them. They have to go through formal education in these formative years and at the same time need to develop their self-confidence and a sense of personal identity.

Recognizing the nature and strength of these pressures allows us to appreciate that stress; neuroses, unhappiness and depression are by no means the prerogative of adults. Unfortunately, little is done with formal education to help adolescents learn to understand themselves, to control their anxieties and their thought processes, and to discover tranquility, harmony and balance within themselves. Little is done to help them manage their own inner lives, to use their mental energies productively instead of dissipating it in worries and random thinking and to access the creative levels of their own minds. A lack of education in mind training at this stage has resulted in most adolescents developing bad mental habits. Often their minds are turmoil of excitements, hopes, expectations, anxieties and fantasies.

The rate of depression among adolescents is typically high. Their mood swings lead to agonizing periods of self-doubt. Virtually at no other time in life is there more a need for a mind training that, without denying or seeking to judge or repress a single feeling or emotion, can settle the individual into calm and relaxed state.Thus, the present study is designed to examine the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns in Lagos Metropolis.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

It has become a common phenomenon to read, hear or witness incidences of change in adolescent and enthusiasm for delinquent acts such as alcohol intake, drug abuse, rape, prostitution, sexual perversion, stealing, cultism, adolescent suicide, school dropout and all kinds of wanton misdemeanor which has become a problem in our sour societies and homes.

However, adolescents behaviours are differ from each other, there are patterns which they follow, the causes of negative behaviours are parental socioeconomic status of adolescents and peer pressure. Both school and home environments play an important role in adolescents’ behavioural pattern, negative peer influences, lack of attachment to school personnel (e.g., teachers, nurses), poor school achievement and attainments, and cognitive or learning difficulties. It’s sad to say that these behaviours and social problems like truancy, school dropout, depression, fighting and aggression have patterns are unfortunately fallout of the social ills in the society. It is the society or our environment that creates severe poverty, homelessness and economic hardships.

The societal norm violations are symptoms of social problems and the source of deviance is found within the social structure. This shows that anti-social behaviours expressed by students or adolescents are reflective of what obtains in the larger society. Many have agreed that deviant acts perpetrated by students in the secondary schools are due to negligence by parents, families and environmental and are responsible for the downward turn in the academic performance and social adjustment of these students. Therefore, to curb negative adolescents’ behaviour the teachers, parents and counsellors should be charged with a great responsibility to help the adolescent adjust to behaviors like truancy, drop out from school, depression, fighting, aggression etc. Therefore, it is against this background that this study is designed to examine the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns in Lagos Metropolis.

1.3 Purpose of the Study

The main purpose of this study is to examine the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns in Lagos Metropolis. This general aim is expressed in the following specific objectives which are to:

  1. To examine how socioeconomic status influence adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  2. To determine the influence of peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  3. To determine the influence of family structure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  4. To examine the influence of school environment on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.

1.4 Research Questions

The research following questions will be answered in this study:

  1. To what extent does socioeconomic status influence adolescents’ behavioural patterns?
  2. How does peer pressure influence adolescents’ behavioural patterns?
  3. How does family structure influence adolescents’ behavioural patterns?
  4. To what extend does school environment influence adolescents’ behavioural patterns?.

1.5 Research Hypotheses

The following hypotheses will be addressed in this study;

  1. There is no significant influence of socioeconomic status on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  2. There is no significant influence of peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  3. There is significant influence of family structure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.
  4. There is significant influence of school environment on adolescents’ behavioural patterns.

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study would be beneficial to parents, adolescents, and non-governmental agencies. This study through its findings would create the necessary awareness among parents on the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns. It will throw more light on the relevance of parents monitoring/supervision on the present and future wellbeing of adolescents. It will equip the adolescents with some dangers involved in delinquent acts thereby putting them on the path of caution.

The findings would be useful to the government especially the Ministry of Health and Education who in collaboration with the non-governmental agencies would package effective and result oriented interventions on adolescents (their characteristics, interests, values). Lastly it will contribute positively to the expansion of knowledge in the area of delinquent acts of the adolescents and serve as a reference tool for future researchers in the field.

1.7 Scope of the Study

The study covers to examine the influence of socioeconomic status and peer pressure on adolescents’ behavioural patterns in Lagos Metropolis. The study will cover socioeconomic status, peer pressure and adolescents’ behavioural patterns.

1.8 Operational Definition of Terms

Relative to this study, definitions to the following terms are provided in order to clarify each in the context of the topic:


For purposes of this study, adolescents will refer to persons aged 10 – 17 years.


Refers being in the transition period, that is, it is the process of developing from a child into an adult.

Socio-Economic Status:

Refers to level of expenditure and standard of living of an individual as expressed in living apartment, educational attainment, occupational level and income level of the person.

Peer Pressure:

Is influence that a peer group, observers or individuals exert to encourage others to change their attitudes, values or behaviours and conform to the group norms.

Adolescents’ Behavioural Patterns:

In this context, refers to a particular way an adolescent behaves or adopts.

Chapter Five

Discussion, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Introduction

This chapter integrates the theoretical framework, in Chapter 2, with the results in Chapter 4 in order to discuss the hypotheses of the study as drawn in Chapter 3. That is then followed by the Conclusion and Recommendations for future researchers.

Two hypotheses were formulated to explore and investigate the specific objectives formulated. These hypotheses were:

  • Hypothesis 1: Adolescent misbehaviour will be significantly different in advantaged and
    disadvantaged schools.
  • Hypothesis 2: There will be a significantly positive relationship between adolescent behaviour and peer pressure in adolescents in advantaged and disadvantaged schools.

5.2 Adolescents and Behavioural Pattern

Adolescence is defined as the transitional stage of development between childhood and adulthood, it represents the period of time during which a person experiences a variety of biological changes and encounters a number of emotional issues (Pereira &Altmann, 1985). According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adolescence covers the period of life between 13 and 17 years of age. Literature shows that social behaviour of children changes as they enter adolescence (Kuntsch & Kuendig, 2005). During this stage, adolescents feel that they are better off spending time with peers as compared to spending time with their parents or any adult (Bussey& Bandura, 1999).

Misbehaviour is a negative response of an individual, group, or species to its environment (Eyberg&McDiarmid, 2005). In adolescents, misbehaviour is associated with drinking, smoking, aggression, disrupting, talkative, not concentrating in the classroom, bullying others, fights and in general just displaying antisocial behaviour (Owens, 2002). In the process of trying to be in charge of children’s destructive behaviours, parents and teachers may intensify negative relations with them as they enter adolescence (Owens, 2002) as a result, peers become more recognizable in order to replace the adult figure. The results of the current study suggested that adolescent misbehaviour was highly motivated by peers which influence them to behave negatively. These resulted hypothesis 2 and extends previous research (Global School–based Student Health 2004). This is probably why adolescents spend most of their time with peers as compared to adults (Owens, 2002). These peer interactions are not always positive. As a result, peer pressure then becomes dominant factor during adolescence leading to increases in displayable inappropriate behaviours (Collins & Larsen, 1992; Reese-Weber, 2000).

The result of testing hypothesis 2 showed that there is a significant positive relationship between adolescent behaviour and peer pressure in adolescents in advantaged and disadvantaged schools. Another reason being that during adolescence, peer groups become more and more important peaking at 13 years (Costanzia & Shaw, 1966; as cited in Vandivere et al., 2004) and anti- social behaviour peaks between the ages of 14–15 years (Bendt, 1979; as cited in Graham & Weiner, 1996).

In general, it is well known that adolescents discloses that are at this stage are “in an active purposeful ‘flight’ away from connecting with any adult (Allen & Land, 1999). These connection links are perceived as a self-possession act from which adolescents want to break away in order to gain independence to increase self-sufficiency and a sense of self-reliance (Allen & Land, 1999). An important aspect in adolescence is to develop independence (Allen, Hauser, Bell & Conner, 1994; Collins 1990, & Moore, 1987).

5.3 Peer Pressure

Stuart (2001) defines peer pressure as, “The influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her own attitude, values, or behaviour in order to conform to the group norms.” This can be positive or negative influence. Wickert (2002) also defines peer pressure as the influence of a social group on an individual; it can be constructive or unconstructive. Young adolescents easily conform to behaviour patterns of their peers (Owens, 2002). Research has proved that peer pressure may lead individuals to behave in a way that they do not usually do and also that adolescents are more vulnerable to peer influence because it is their time for experimenting with new identities and experiences.

The findings of this research study are in agreement with the previous researchers in the sense that it was proved in all 40 items on EPP and 40 items of CBCL, adolescents who were asked to act rebellious ( or inappropriately) by their peers responded positively. The reason for this maybe that adolescents are still immature to reason on their own and they think that their friends can leave them if they do not conform to the norms and values of the peer group. This then force them to conform to their friends’ way of behaving. Corsaro (1985: 65) mentioned that, “As children interact day after day, they invent routines that reflects age-related concerns and perceptions of the adults world and create a sense of group identity.” Gouws and Kruger (1994) mentioned that the peer group is then perceived as a sounding board for the adolescent’s ideas, thoughts, acts and their concerns. Another reason, maybe be that, adolescents devote a high percentage of unsupervised time which they spend with friends. The findings by the Health Outlook (2005) that says once influenced, teens may continue the slide into problems with the law, substance abuse, school problems, authority disobedience and gang involvement then becomes true as reflected by the results for hypothesis 2.

The results of this study suggested that some adolescents had engaged in misbehaviour activities sited as use of illicit drugs, dagga, having sex, drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes or skipping lessons from school. When comparing adolescents from advantaged and disadvantaged schools, those from disadvantaged schools scored significantly higher for such misbehaviour than their counterparts in advantaged schools. For example, the largest difference was found on use of alcohol or drugs for non-medical purpose, with adolescents from disadvantaged schools (62%) citing more of this type of misbehaviour than those from advantaged schools (41.9%). In addition to the current findings, several other studies have found out that adolescents, as a result of peer pressure are being led to experiment with alcohol, sex, smoking cigarettes, and use of illicit drugs, and various high-risk behaviours (Mattessich and Hosley, 2004; Owens, 2002; Vandivere, et al., 2004; Scott, 2007; Rima 2008; Le Beau & Yonder, 2009; Arnett, 1990 & Edelman, 1995).

5.4 The School Environment as a Risk Factor

The term environment refers to the factors that can affect a person’s behaviour; these can be social and physical environments (Glanz et al, 2002). Roman (2008)’s findings shows that the environment plays a vital role in either promoting or obstructing the quality of a person’s functioning. This might be the reason for less peer influence in advantaged schools as compared to disadvantaged schools. In agreement to this, results for hypothesis 1 disclosed that there is a dominance of adolescents’ misbehaviour within schools despite their environmental differences. Results of this study confirmed that there is massive peer influence in schools whether being advantaged or disadvantaged schools. If the prevalence of adolescents who responded positively to peer pressure is carefully analysed, there was a slight difference between advantaged and disadvantaged schools. However, this then agrees with Barber and Buehler (1996) who mentions that most of the adolescents’ behavioural problems come out as a result of the way how the environment interacts and supports them. Non-directive schools are known to nurture learners by default, that is, by taking practically no action in impacting school rules and regulations to their learners. Accordingly, schools that fall in this category barely punish or discipline their learners and the learners often appear to have the upper hand than the teachers (Fisher 1981; Maccoby& Martin, 1983). The fact that advantaged schools implement the authoritative way in their institutions might cause adolescents to be less affected by negative peer pressure unlike in disadvantaged schools. This can be as a result of the implementation of the set values, beliefs, standards and principles which the advantaged schools live by (Baumrind, 1967). Whereas, disadvantaged schools create a permissive type of environment which exposes their learners to bad influence (Bloomberg, 2007 & Owens, 2002). Hence, their adolescents (learners) will then be vulnerable to negative peer pressure. The results found in this study do not concur with Alexander (2000), who mentioned that behaviour either it is internally or externally caused, the fact remains that it is a result of the interaction between the individual and the environment. This can then lead one to conclude that the school environment has a major impact on adolescents who took part in the investigation. The findings of the current study also reflected that peer pressure and misbehaviour is low in advantaged schools. This concurs with Cashwell and Vacc (1996) who found out that an organized environment reduces the chances of delinquent

5.5 Peer Pressure, The School Environment and Adolescents’ Misbehaviour

The results of this study suggested that the majority of participants scored extremely high on both EPP and CBCL scales. It showed that peer pressure and the school environment are factors influencing adolescent misbehaviour. Another possible explanation for this result was given in the study which was conducted by Owens (2002), who mentioned that adolescents have a chance to change their bad behaviour when the feedback is negative but if schools do not offer this opportunity, it is in vain. The current results also showed that all participants were not exposed to only one or few behavioural problems. This may be the reason that was found by Narayan et al. (2008) that the more risk factors that are present in an adolescent’s environment, the greater the chances are that he or she will experience problems.

The school also has a hidden curriculum. The hidden curriculum is associated with instilling positive attitudes, values, beliefs, and behaviour in learners and hence this is usually done indirectly (Cornbleth, 2008). Apart from the above, the hidden curriculum also instils social structures of the classroom, the teacher’s exercise of authority, student – teacher relationship, activities based on standards, language used by the teacher, resources, graphic sources, classroom environment, consequences, schedules, and priorities set by the curricular (Glenn & Nelsen 2000).

However, from the literature presented in Chapter 2, it was found out that disadvantaged schools employ unqualified teachers who have less experience in dealing with misbehaviour. These unqualified teachers also display behaviours that are unbearable before the adolescent’s sight.

Examples of such behaviours includes shouting at learners, banging doors, calling learners names or labelling learners and screaming at them if they make mistakes. Learners will be observing these behaviour and then imitate the teachers.

In summary these teachers do not display desired behaviours, and since children learn best by example as initiated by the SCT. The environment provides models for behaviour (Parraga, 1990). This might be the reason for disadvantaged schools having high number of adolescents who responded negatively to peer pressure which lead them to bad behavioural acts. This summarise that, teachers need to display desired behaviours, since children learn best by example as instigated by the SCT. This theory explains how these determinants permit individuals to acquire and maintain certain behavioural patterns which in turn build one’s own character. Bandura proposes that observational or social learning focuses on four element processes required to mould and learn behaviour. The results then are approved to be true by the SCT and Bandura (1997) who stated that observational learning occurs when a person watches the actions of another person and the reinforcements that person receives. According to Bandura (1999), behaviour production is putting the observation into performance or if one takes the actions observed and use them gradually to alter them so that they fit the model. This might encourage teachers to model desired behaviours so that children learn best from them. So scrutinizing the teaching methods, the institutional environments and their influence on pupils is becoming mandatory rather than just advisable. In support, Glenn and Nelsen’s (2000) mentioned that, the impact of teachers’ behaviour upon pupils’ behaviour and management skills are being underestimated, meaning the influence is bigger than stated.

Additionally, the results if this study showed the prevalence of peer pressure in schools is high, concurring with Nivea (2006) who concluded that peer pressure varies according to the situation: for example being with one close friend, in a small clique of friends, or seeing what the larger peer group is doing in the school. The fact that advantaged schools have better ways of dealing with their adolescents does not mean that peer pressure is absent. It is there, but not as massive as it is in disadvantaged schools. Peer interaction is direct and more powerful than the influence of teachers and other authority as Nivea (2006) reported. This then lead one to conclude that whether parents or teachers like it or not, views of their child’s peers often bear more power than theirs. The results of this study agree with Wickert (2002) who stated that peer pressure is normally effective in children because they spend more time in schools.

5.6 Relevance of Social Cognitive Theory (SCT)

The initiative of Social Cognitive Theory (SCT) was to explain how adolescents acquired and maintained certain behavioural patterns, while also providing the basis for intervention strategies (Bandura, 1997). Evaluating behavioural change depended on three factors which were the environment, people and behaviour. The theory of Social Cognition declared that environments provided the framework for understanding behaviour and situations which refer to the cognitive or mental representations of the environment that had affected (Bandura, 1999). The environment had provided models for behaviour (Parraga, 1990). This theory explained how these determinants permitted individuals to acquire and maintain certain behavioural patterns which in turn built one’s own character.

The SCT dealt with cognitive, emotional and behavioural aspects for understanding behavioural changes. Parraga (1990) used the concept of SCT in relation to innate and universal different environments in understanding adolescents’ behaviour. These three factors, that is, environment, people and behaviour constantly influenced each other. However, individuals had only functioned positively if their environment had provided favourable models for good behaviour. SCT supported this study by providing a sound basis for how mixture of behavioural, cognitive and environmental factors influenced one’s behaviour and how the environment had provided models for behaviour for adolescents (Santrock, 2008). Additionally, the process of learning from other people’s behaviour (peers) was a central idea of Social Cognitive Theory and self-efficacy (Frederickson & Turner, 2003). Hence, for this particular group, peer pressure and school environments promoted and cultivated misbehaviour of adolescents in schools.

This proposed that the more the adolescent was exposed to peer pressure the more mischiefs he/she was prone to behave negatively. Finally, school environments that permitted high ranks of peer pressure exposure resulted in adolescents misbehaving. Therefore, favourable school environments for adolescents should be created so that peer influence will be monitored and discouraged.

5.8 Conclusion

Adolescence age ranges between the ages of 13 to 17 years, which is considered as the age of hormonal changes. Throughout adolescence, adolescents feel more at ease when they are with their peers than when they are with adults. Adolescents’ misbehaviour at school then seemed to be strong due to peer influence because this is where they spend most of their time. The school environment then plays as a key factor in shaping adolescents’ behaviour. However, adolescents have no choice on how the people around them may act or behave but they have a choice on how they should react to those behaviours. Adolescents still has ultimate control over their environment because they always have the choice to leave their present one to find one that will be more productive in completing their goals. Since the adolescent spends most of their time at school, teachers should be playing the parental role to which learners look at as sources of inspirations. To sum up, results of this investigation had proved that children’s behaviour at school appears to be strongly affected by disciplinary measures that are in place at each school. Many researchers have agree that a school is a breeding ground for negative or positive behaviour due to students desiring to find themselves a place to fit in (Okrentowich, 2006; Myers & Shannon, 2001). However, as devastating and complicated as the adolescent behaviour can be, they are not beyond help. Enlightening their lives may not be stress-free, but it is possible. This study had provided the groundwork for future intercession.

5.9 Recommendations

The emphasis of this developmental research has often focused on the influence of peer pressure on adolescents’ misbehaviour in different school environments. This study had provided vital insights and widening our understanding on the influence of peer pressure in schools on adolescent misbehaviour. The results of study had powerfully helped various stakeholders in education to assist in providing good learning environments and instilling good social attributes to learners while moulding adolescents’ behaviours in schools. This study provided a very significant base to motivate patrons in education to improve school environments in such a way that good behaviour is promoted. It also offered possible interventions. Therefore based on the results of this study, the following are the recommendations:

  1. Interventions should be provided to improve school environments such as setting disciplinary standard guidelines that will be implemented in all schools despite their nature of existence.
  2. Interventions should be supplied to adolescents who are involved in misbehaviour at school. Examples of these programs could be youth clubs, recreational activities for adolescents during weekends/school holidays and after school programmes that will occupy them whilst parents are at work.
  3. Form compulsory social clubs e.g. sports clubs which will also accommodate the less privileged adolescents who cannot afford to affiliate to current expensive clubs that are in existence.
  4. To provide teachers with workshops on how to deal with adolescents who influence others with bad behaviour and set strong measures on them and to let it known to adolescents what will become to them if they influence others and if they respond positively to peers pressure.
  5. To educate children from early years on how to make the right choices and the rewards that are brought by making either the right choice or the wrong one.
  6. To provide learners with sporting activities within the school set-up and change the time of knocking off from 1300hrs to 1600hrs to minimise time spend by adolescents on their own. The results of this study provided a good basis to conduct further research in this field of study. Thus further research could:
  7. Investigate whether the reason that most adolescents do not live with their biological parents is the cause for them being exposed to peer pressure and reasons for misbehaving.
  8. Find out whether the reasons for many adolescents staying in large household might be the cause of them being prone to peer pressure and negative behaviour at school.
  9. Examine the influence of the family environment and its relationship to peer pressure and adolescents misbehaviour at school.
  10. To find out if there is a link between some variables leading to another misbehaviour act, for example, to find out if those who have used dagga went on to behave negatively to the other 39 items on EPP.
  11. The data collected will be commendable for the study of public health in schools and adolescents related topics.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How do peers influence adolescence?

Peers may strongly determine preference in the way of dressing, speaking, using illicit substances, sexual behaviour, adopting and accepting violence, adopting criminal and anti-social behaviours and in many other areas of the adolescent’s life (Padilla, Walker & Bean, 2009; Tomé, Matos & Diniz, 2008).

Which young people are most susceptible to peer influence?

Some researchers have shed light on the question of which young people are most susceptible to peer influence. High levels of social anxiety or low levels of self-esteem tend to make adolescents more likely to adopt the perceived behaviors of their peers, as are those who have been rejected.

Does school ethnic composition influence adolescents’ psychosocial development?

Graham identified four specific ways in which a school’s racial and ethnic composition may influence adolescents’ psychosocial development, using data from a longitudinal study of middle and high school students’ psychosocial adjustment (the Peer Relations Project6).

How does parent-adolescent relationship influence adolescence?

The relationship with parents is indicated as a protective variable towards the involvement in risk behaviours and the increase of adolescents’ health and well-being, being it a factor that may also mediate the relationship between adolescents and their peers (Newman, Harrison & Dashiff, 2008; Alvarez, Martin & Vergeles, 2003).

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