Objective To identify ways to cope with peer pressure to use tobacco, alcohol, and other drugs.
Background At ages 12 to 14, youths are aware of drugs and may already have been offered or pressured to use drugs by older siblings and friends, or by their own peers. This lesson helps students recognize peer pressure and decide how to refuse drugs.
Activities Discuss peer pressure – or pressure from people your own age to do things you know are risky, wrong, or that you normally wouldn't do on your own. Discuss the various forms such pressure can take.
Have the class read the segment of Tom Sawyer in which Huckleberry Finn offers Tom Sawyer a smoke of his pipe (chapter 16, "First Pipes").
Ask students to describe the implications of this scene and its relationship to peer pressure.
Have students write a brief essay on what they would do in the same situation. Ask students to tell what effect saying no to smoking might have on Tom and Huckleberry's friendship.
Ask students to write another brief essay on what might happen if they were to refuse an offer of drugs from one of their own friends.
Resources Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Teacher tips Explain to students that the ideal of love and friendship assumes a level of responsibility toward the other person that prohibits causing danger or harm.
Discuss with students how peer pressure is depicted in other pieces of literature or in movies, television, or music lyrics (suggestion: show and discuss the movie Stand By Me).