South African youth, as well as youth all over the world are facing a number of challenges, particularly when they live in conditions of poverty and disadvantages. Considering the very high levels of violence in this country, the effective treatment of violent youths is imperative. Crime statistics in South Africa say that most of ‘youth violence’ is a result of either alcohol and drug abuse…or being bored and in most cases they indulge in this as a result of societal or peer pressure.
In order to tackle this challenge, on the 20th of July 2016, Simunye High Africa Unite’s School Club in Delft Township held its first school dialogue on peer pressure.
The cabinet invited 3 experts on the topic as guest speakers (Delft South African Police Service (SAPS) representative, City of Cape Town Sports & Recreation Department representative and one youth motivational speaker from the University of Western Cape. The dialogue was entirely facilitated by the learners themselves ie, vice president and the minister of social development. 73 learners from various grades attended this interactive engagement.
After welcoming the participants, the school club members (President, Vice-President, Ministers, and Parliamentarians) were enthusiastic to lead a quick icebreaker to ease everyone into the topic of the day: peer pressure.
To begin, the facilitator asked the participants to define peer pressure and its causes. All the respondents including the SAPS representative, who shared her opinion, mentioned the role of an external force (i.e. another person). The learners then developed their working definition of peer pressure as:
- a social influence exerted to make someone conform to the expectations of the influencing individual or group.
To ensure that the participants understood “peer pressure,” they were asked to present 1 peer pressure cause and 2 examples on school level. The presenters were very motivational and even went beyond by sharing personal experiences and insights. The learners pinpointed a few causes of peer pressure as follows:
- the desire to fit in as some learners are coming from very disadvantaged families. This makes them vulnerable to conformity as they try to be on the same level with others.
- One learner, in particular, recognized that some female students were peer pressured into wearing shorter uniform skirts just to fit in.
- The desire to find friend groups and friends also is another issue which was identified. Some groups have their own subculture, eg gangs, bullies etc. Hence in order to be one of them you have to act like them
City of Cape Town Sports and Recreation Dept. representative then shared a few motivational words on the power of youth activism and encouraged the learners to stay on the right path by continuing to pursue higher education and not give in to peer pressure.
Many questions and comments were made by the participants and following these discussions the Club members assigned the participants to go in groups and develop recommendations to address peer pressure in their school. Below is some of the recommendations:
- There is need to develop or invite more positive role models that can inflict positive peer pressure on learners
- The school administration should adequately address and support school initiatives that addresses peer pressure and other issues affecting the learners
- More capacity building training should be conducted with learners in order for them to be able to make moral choices and become defenders at school level
- creating learners support groups where those undergoing peer pressure could openly express themselves
- More dialogues of this nature at school level are needed, not only for peer pressure but other issues that learners are facing at school level
To conclude, the club members assured the participants that these recommendations had created a working document for them because they would lobby various stakeholders who could assist on following up on the implementation recommendations.
The club members then thanked their 3 guests for their eye opening contributions and the learners for staying after-school and engaging in the dialogue.
For more pictures click here