We all need friends
As we grow up we meet many people — those who live near us (our neighbours), go to our school or work, have the same interests, or play the same sports. Friends of our age or those we spend time with, are called our 'peers'. Our peers can have a big influence on the way we behave and dress, where we go and what we do. We want to be the same as our peers.
This can be very helpful to us, but it can also bring us trouble. We can begin bad habits because we want to follow our peers. We think cannot help ourselves. This is called 'peer pressure'.
Jacob, a SOON reader from Kenya, began smoking because his cousin was a smoker. "I was a heavy smoker for twelve years," he says. "I found smoking irresistible due to my cousin's way of smoking. My friends too would light a cigarette and entice me to smoke to prove I was a man."
It is very difficult not to follow the things our friends do or tell us to do. James, a SOON reader in Nigeria, was troubled in his mind after he followed a friend's idea. He was not happy in his work at a factory, so his friend told him about a job in an office. He writes, "They were looking for an office assistant who had a school certificate. I don't have a school certificate, but my friend told me that I should not worry. He used a paper to cover his own name on his school certificate, made a photocopy and I wrote my name on it."
James now knows that this was wrong and has been working hard to gain his own school certificate, but at the time he did what his friend told him to do.
Hard to stop
We do not like to be different from our peers or even to look different. We want to be accepted by the group and follow our peers whether they are doing good or bad things. It is very hard to stop ourselves. We need to look for friends who have a good influence on us. God wants us to do good things and he can give us the power to say 'no' to our peers if they want us to do wrong. Why not ask him today to help you?
Pressure for sex
30 million people in Africa have HIV-AIDS — it kills more Africans than anything else. India now has 4 million HIV+ people and the number is growing fast. 8000 people will die of AIDS today. Many got the illness because of peer pressure. They listened to words like these:
"Show yourself to be a real man."
"All the other girls are doing it."
"If you really loved me then …"
Why let other people decide things for you? You decide — for yourself! Don't worry if people laugh at you? They are the ones in more danger.
If you don't know whether you are HIV+, then get tested before you take the risk of infecting anyone else. Take responsibility for your actions.
If you are already HIV+, God wants to help you through this difficult time. There is always hope for the future. There are many self-help groups for people who are HIV+. If there is no group in your area, why not start one?
If you are faithful to one partner, then you will not spread infection. Talk to a church leader about making a commitment in marriage, or repeating your vows of faithfulness to eachother.