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Peer Pressure

20 October 2007

David gives an interesting example of peer pressure at school — his son goes to a Catholic school where he was taught to make the sign of the cross in the Western fashion.

I don’t know how old Aidan is, but it reminds me of something that happened many years ago in a state school in Durban

A friend was called  to her daughter’s school one day, and in the principal’s office found her nine-year-old daughter, and , red-faced and angry, and her class teacher. Apparently the daughter had got upset when the teacher referred to black people as kaffirs (an insulting term), and had shouted at the teacher, and the teacher had taken her to the principal’s office and was demanding an apology.

Sometimes kids resist peer pressure, and sometimes one wishes that they would resist it more,  but how much parental pressure can be applied to encourage them to resist pressure from teachers and peers?

That’s always the problem with a minority culture, like Orthodoxy in the West in one instance, or anti-racism among white South Africans in the apartheid era in the other.

Parents can’t force kids  to buck the dominant culture, but can rejoice if they do.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 October 2007 7:20 am

    I remember my dad backing up my brother in a similar situation. He sat in the principles office and instructed my brother not to apologize. By the same token when there was a real problem with my brother my dad backed up the authorities.

  2. 20 October 2007 9:43 am

    It is a constant battle for me – I have an 8 year old (going on 20) and a 1 year old. I see a lot of my ‘independence’, ‘creativity’, ‘courage’, and ‘strength’ in them… I put these quotation marks because I’ve come to learn that what one calls these things depends very much upon one’s age, and the manner and place in which one applies these qualities.

    At my age, and my stage of life, in the new political context, I have had to have ‘courage’ to challenge some of the stereotypes I see perpetuated about white colleagues, I have had to be ‘creative’ to gain funding and support from which I was supposed to be excluded because I am white and mail. I have had to learn to be ‘independent’ and continue to live on the side of hope when my father, brother, and sister have been retired early or retrenched. And, I have had to muster great inner ‘strength’ not to just jump at every opportunity to leave the ministry of my Church and take more lucrative and less conflicted positions in secular society…

    However, I can assure you, when I was a teenager my creativity lead to the two tatoos I still have, and now regret. My independence meant that I too spent more time in the principal’s office than on the playground… You get the idea.

    Thanks for this thoughtful post Steve! I love the way you think and write… It challenges me!



  3. 20 October 2007 1:30 pm

    That’s why in the States the Greek Catholics (usually Slavs not Greeks – the name comes from the rite) have lost most of their people – exactly this kind of assimilation. The Orthodox lose people similarly – by the third generation after immigration they’re not name-the-old-country any more and move and/or marry out of the church – but among the Greek Catholics the pressure has been from within their own church, not because of official teaching but social pressure just like on young Aidan, specifically to become RC.

    The young fogey

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