Most parents think of peer pressure as kids urging other kids to drink or smoke, but it can sometimes result in a far worse situation.
For this reason, it's important to have a serious talk with your son once he becomes old enough to start going out with friends on his own.
Robberies and Other Crime
I remember hearing a story around October 2012 about a group of four young men from Indiana who broke into a man's home, which resulted in one of the men, 21-year-old Danzele Johnson, being shot by the homeowner. Indiana law states that if a death happens while a felony is being committed, those involved in the crime can be charged with murder.
Due to this law, the other two 16 year old young men received a sentence of 45 to 55 years in prison.
When the men were asked why they broke into the house in the first place, they replied that they were simply going along with the crowd.
If their attorneys are not successful in lobbying for a change in the law (and making it retroactive), those two men will spend the majority of their life behind bars.
So, I let my sons know that no one is above the law and age guidelines are constantly changing. I made sure they understood that teens can’t be shielded by their youth and ignorance as they once could.
Drinking and Drugs
You might think that your son is too smart to get involved in underage drinking and drug use, and hopefully, you're right.
Still, it's very important to talk to him about the dangers. Not only could driving while intoxicated result in his death or the death of someone else, but friends that allow him to get behind the wheel could face criminal penalties.
In late 2013, a Connecticut teen was killed after she drove while extremely intoxicated, and the friends who let her do so are now facing reckless-endangerment charges.
The fact that they are underage and drinking leaves little defense and the penalties will be severe. I have a 20yr old son and a 16yr old son.
I can’t imagine either of them engaging in such acts.
But I also understand that most parents always think the best of their kids. Even if they are caught red handed, we are often quick to believe that they were being influenced by their peers.
Sadly, this kind of thinking is why many parents avoid these talks altogether.
I approached the subject with my boys by inviting them to drink with me. I was even trying to convince them it was okay because I was their mom. Imagine how proud I was when they both refused and even lectured me on contributing to a minor. I explained that it was just a test.
They were pleased to know they passed with flying colors.
Date rape has become such a problem in high school and on college campuses that even President Obama has addressed it.
In 2011, Missouri college student Sasha Menu Courey committed suicide after being raped on campus and her case is one of many.
High schools are seeing a rise in this problem with many young girls traumatized and many young men's futures falling by the wayside because they are now felons, who will probably be listed as sexual offenders for the rest of their lives.
I would hate to see rape happen to anyone or for someone to get falsely accused of it.
So, I taught my sons how to protect themselves from mischievous young women who will sometimes claim rape to get attention or get the guy into trouble unaware of how serious those charges are.
My family also discussed the dangerous trend of slipping drugs into a person’s drink.
Your son is under a lot of pressure to have sex.
Not only are his hormones active, but he is constantly being urged to “hit it” by his friends.
It's unrealistic to expect complete abstinence, but you can do something to protect him by explaining the risks. With 20 million new infections each year, the United States has the highest STD rate in the industrialized world.
Sadly, young people account for at least 50 percent of these infections.
Let him know there are people who will either not get tested to find out their STD/HIV status or not disclose it.
Although you may believe he is not emotionally mature enough to have sex, it's important to talk about birth control, especially condoms, which are also needed to protect against STDs.
Your son should know the age of consent for the state in which he lives, as well as the allowed age difference between him and his partner. It is not hard to find this information online. He must know that there is a great responsibility that comes with being sexually active.
I am very close to my boys and they actually came to me about sex questions first. Believe it or not, my eldest son required a detailed “sex” talk at the age of nine. He was traumatized by a little girl offering him fellatio on the bus in exchange for a dollar.
You can probably visualize my reaction to being asked why a girl would want to…by my elementary school aged son and then be asked, “Is that normal?”
You can't control what your son does while you're not around, but discussing cases and statistics such as these can open his eyes to the risks.
As a parent, it's natural to believe that your child would never take part in such dangerous or criminal activities, but it's important to realize that peer pressure can have a very powerful effect.
Remind your son that some mistakes cannot be undone, and if he sees a bad situation unfolding, don’t wait too late to leave or call for help.
What’s Your Opinion?
- Have you had these talks with your sons?
- Are they willing to listen to you?
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