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Does peer pressure influence teen drinking behavior?

On Behalf of | Apr 3, 2023 | Criminal Defense

There are many different reasons why teens decide to drink alcohol, despite the fact that it is illegal for them to do so in Florida. Some are just curious about it. Others have seen their parents drink. Still others turn to alcohol because it is much cheaper than other types of substances that they may be considering, and it is easier to get.

But one of the big reasons that you’ll find behind the teen drinking epidemic is that it is often spurred on by peer pressure. Teens who would never have tried to drink on their own or while that are at home will be pressured into doing so when spending time with a group of friends. Maybe they’re at a party or a social gathering where everyone is drinking. That pressure to fit in and be part of the group can cause them to ignore or overlook the ramifications of their decisions. Some teens will simply choose to risk consequences because acceptance by the peer group seems more important.

Not all peer pressure is overt

When people think about peer pressure, they often think of deliberate and overt actions. Overt peer pressure could manifest as a teenager saying that they don’t want to have a drink and then being ridiculed by others until they agree to imbibe. Yet, it’s important to remember that inadvertent peer pressure also exists. No one has to tell a teen that they should drink or they will be ostracized from the group. They already understand that if they don’t behave in a certain way, certain social consequences are likely to result.

Teen social hierarchy is generally based on trying to fit into various groups and “in crowds”. If they are at an event where everyone else is partaking in a specific activity – such as playing drinking games – they’re going to feel like an outsider simply by refraining from doing so. Even if no one at the party ridiculed them or puts direct pressure on them, they’re still going to feel the impact of that pressure.

Teens often express remorse if they get caught drinking, or they’ll say that they don’t know what they were thinking. Part of the reason for this is that they weren’t thinking; they were just reacting to peer pressure. Yet, “I wasn’t thinking, I just wanted Krista to like me” isn’t a viable legal defense. As a result, parents of teens who are now facing significant legal charges will benefit from learning about all the defense options at their child’s disposal so that they can hopefully remain on a life path that doesn’t include navigating a criminal record.