Bat­tling the peer pres­sure plague

The Compass - - OPINION - BY NATHAN WHALEN

A phe­nom­e­non that be­gan in Aus­tralia has made its way around the world and has now be­gun to hit us hard here at home. I’m sure you’re heard of it: Ne­knom­i­na­tions.

Yes, the game of film­ing yourself chug­ging or “neck­ing” co­pi­ous amounts of al­co­hol, chal­leng­ing your friends to out­shine your per­for­mance within 24 hours, and post­ing it on­line for the world to see is now on your child’s radar.

This in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous game has lead to deaths around the globe and is a swift push en­cour­ag­ing youth to con­sume al­co­hol.

The peer pres­sure be­hind this game is that it is seen as hon­ourable to be nom­i­nated to per­form the task. For many ju­nior and se­nior high school youth, this game flies in the face of cre­at­ing safe and healthy en­vi­ron­ments. Many par­ents are un­aware that their child may have been drink­ing al­co­hol or be­lieve that their child is too young for this is­sue to con­cern them; how­ever, ac­cord­ing to the 2012 Stu­dent Drug Use Sur­vey, the aver­age age of ini­tial al­co­hol con­sump­tion is 13.5 years old.

If you’re the par­ent of a stu­dent who is in Grade 5 or older, they need your guid­ance on how to say no to peer pres­sure and to dis­cuss the dan­gers of such be­hav­iour.

Many young people may have the wrong mes­sage that al­co­hol equates to a good time and yet do not fully un­der­stand the dan­gers. Teach­ing your child that al­co­hol is a de­pres­sant and dis­cussing the neg­a­tive side ef­fects such as the health risks, em­bar­rass­ment, and over­con­sump­tion are help­ful in guid­ing them to­ward mak­ing the right choices.

An­other thing to con­sider is show­ing your child ex­am­ples where youth have made poor choices and have had con­se­quences rang­ing from dam­ag­ing their rep­u­ta­tion to land­ing in a hospi­tal to even death.

What is more im­por­tant for youth, how­ever, is learn­ing to make smart choices. Most young people are vul­ner­a­ble to peer pres­sure. Pu­berty is prime­time for find­ing your iden­tity and sense of be­long­ing and the key to not giv­ing in to peer pres­sure is self­es­teem and self-con­fi­dence.

Be sure your child un­der­stands that you and many other trusted adults such as teach­ers and guid­ance coun­selors are there to speak to when needed.

Fi­nally, con­sider what your fam­ily can do to fos­ter safe and healthy en­vi­ron­ments that pro­mote pos­i­tive de­ci­sion-mak­ing.

Ask yourself: what be­hav­iours do we en­cour­age and prac­tice at home that pro­motes my child’s self-es­teem? Also, de­ter­mine how you can get in­volved in your school com­mu­nity’s safe and car­ing schools ini­tia­tives and lend a hand.

So what do you do if your fam­ily is faced with a nom­i­na­tion? I rec­om­mend that in­stead of par­tic­i­pat­ing in the dan­ger­ous cha­rade, en­cour­age your child to take a stand and join in the “Ran­dom Acts of Kind­ness Nom­i­na­tions” or “Raknom­i­na­tions” and film a video do­ing some good and chal­leng­ing oth­ers to do the same.

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