The influence of peer pressure on adolescent misbehaviour in schools
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A favourable school 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 peer pressure on adolescent misbehaviour in advantaged and disadvantaged schools. A quantitative methodological approach was used to conduct the study. The study was conducted with adolescents aged from 13 to 17 years in both advantaged and disadvantaged secondary (high) schools in Windhoek, Namibia. A sample of 300 participants was randomly stratified across the schools. The Exposure to Peer Pressure Control Scale (Allen & Yen, 2002) a) 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 advantaged 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.