1.1      Background of the study

Adolescence is a stage were, young people begin to make decision of their own break away from their families and try out different roles and situations to figure out who they are and where they fit into the world. They spend more time with their friends and less time with their families. This is a normal, healthy stage of development, but the growing distance between parents and their children and the increasing importance of friends can be a source of conflict and anger within the family. The desire to feel accepted and to fit in is one of the strongest forces in adolescents; this can lead teens to do things that they know are wrong, dangerous, or risky. On the positive side, the pressure to keep up with the peer group can also inspire teens to achieve goals that they might never aim for on their own. In other words, young people prefer to be in the company of other young people, who offer mutual support in contrast to their parents, who they perceive as authoritarian. Perhaps this is why the issue of peer pressure is of great interest to the psychological and sociological fields. Educational activities are geared towards ensuring that students achieve mastery of educational objectives. In school , the extent to which these objectives have been achieved, is determined by their level of peer pressure, time management as students’ success are reflected in their academic performance. Peers play a large role in the social and emotional development of adolescents Allen (2005). Their influence begins at an early age and increases through the teenage years, it is natural, healthy and important for adolescent to have and rely on friends as they grow and mature. A peer could be any one you look up to in behavior or someone who you would think is equal to your age or ability (Hardcastle, 2002). On the other hand, the term “pressure” implies the process that influence people to do something that they might not otherwise choose to do.

According to Hartney, (2011) peer pressure refers to the influences that peers can have on each other. Peer pressure is emotional or mental forces from people belonging to the same social group (such as age, grade or status) to act or behave in a manner similar to themselves (Weinfied 2010). Jones, (2010) defined peer pressure as the ability of people from the same social rank or age to influence another of same age, bracket peer pressure is usually associated with teens although its influence is not confined to teenagers alone. Individuals in society will usually make friends or have their closest associates from among their peer groups. Therefore, peer associates have a great influence on the lifestyle of their members. Infact peer group association as an agent of socialization, determines to a large extent, what social codes an individual learns (Sutherland 1949, Allen, 2003, Nsofor, 2013). This implies that individuals whose core group members believe and act criminal within norms will learn and internalize more of criminal codes than those that conform with the norms of the society. As a result, they conclude that individuals become delinquent through association with people who are the carriers of criminal norms and that criminal behavior is learned within primary groups in particular, peer groups. That is, Criminal behavior in adolescents is as a result of social influence. It is important to note here, that primary groups are the smallest units of interactions in society and a small group within the society is more likely to have a stronger control over an individual’s action or behavior. In fact, Simmel (1971), observed that “a small group is likely to control the individual completely”. Adolescence is defined both in terms of age (spanning the ages of 10 to 19 years) and in terms of phase of life by special attributes. These attributes include rapid physical growth and development, physiological, social and psychological maturity, but not all at the same time (World Health Organization (WHO), 2003; Nwankwo and Nwoke, 2009); while correlate is a causal, complementary, parallel, or reciprocal relationship, especially a structural, functional or quality correspondence between two comparable entities for example a correlation between drug abuse and crime. On the other hand, sexual behavior is a form of physical intimacy that may be directed to reproduction (one possible goal of sexual intercourse), spiritual transcendence, and or the enjoyment of any activity involving sexual gratification.


Peer pressure can be described as the influence exerted by a peer group in encouraging a person to change his or her attitudes, values, or behaviors to conform to the group. A person affected by peer pressure may or may not want to belong to these groups. They may also recognize dissociative groups that they do not wish to belong to, and therefore adopt behaviors in opposition to those of the group (Adams, 1996). In the same vein, according to Harris (1998), peer pressure can cause people to do things they would not normally do, e.g., take drugs, smoke, date, marry, have a job, have children and buy expensive items. Research has shown that over the last 50 years peer influence/pressure has emerged as the chief source of values and behavioral influence for adolescents, replacing the influence of adults. It is in this vein that the researcher intends to investigate the influence of group pressure on adolescent behavioral problems in Nigeria.