The analysis found that adolescents tended to be more sexually active themselves if they perceived their peers as a) more sexually active, b) more approving of having sex, and c) exerting more pressure on them to be sexually active. “What adolescents think that their peers do (role modelling) seems to be most important: adolescents who think that their peers engage in sex are more likely to engage in sex themselves. Peers’ approval of having sex, or peer pressure to have sex, also matter, but seem to matter less,” explains lead researcher, Daphne van de Bongardt.
Surprisingly, the analysis found that peer pressure had the smallest effect on sexual behaviour. Daphne van de Bongardt cautions this result saying, “the meta-analysis included only 10 studies that examined peer pressure, and they varied considerably in the way in which peer pressure was measured (e.g., number of items, source and focus of the pressure). Overall, the literature could be clearer about what “peer pressure” entails, and how it can best be measured. More research is needed to get more insight into adolescents’ own definitions of peer pressure, and the subtlety in which peer pressure may operate in adolescents’ interactions with peers.”
How strongly adolescents’ sexual behaviours are related to sexual peer norms is similar for boys and girls, according to the analysis. However, the extent to which peers engage in sexual risk behaviour appears to be more strongly related to girls’ engagement in sexual risk behaviour than it is for boys.
It’s been known for years that children respond much less to what we tell them and much more to what we do as parents — apparently, teen friendships are under the exact same heading.
A big caveat though:
It is worth noting that this is primarily a study of shame, fear and guilt-based North America where teens don’t come to their parents to discuss sexuality and when/if they should start exploring such. Quite unlike, say Holland…Read more