Teen Boy Peer Pressure

>>  Friday, March 30, 2012

It was a hot day for the time of year and I sat up at our local water watching the world, but little water, go by.  The water level has been creeping down for years but now it's beyond bad.
About 20 teens turned up on bikes, ranging from about 13 to 16 years old.  Mainly boys but a few girls.  I was sat quite a distance from them but the conditions meant I could hear every word they said perfectly. 

I was not surprised that every sentence averaged at least 3 'fuckings', well it' ssuch a versatile word.  I was surprised by the Cword being used as frequently as it was but hey.

A number of them had swam there the day before and were pressuring the others to jump in now.  The amount of pressure, the ribbing, the "you're a pussy", "you'll be the only one that doesn't" - I felt sorry for them all.

How hard must it be for lads of that age to stand up against the crowd, especially with girls watching.  One by one they succumbed, there was the odd comment of "but you can't see the bottom", "it's very dirty", "it's too cold",...they knew the safety advice, they knew it wasn't safe but they couldn't stand down against the pressure.
I decided to wander past and suggested they shouldn't think about going into the water if they had open cuts already and not to get it into their mouths. They were really open to listening which surprised me and I wandered off again to watch.
Another boy said that his chest had got really tight in the cold water the day before and he was worried it would set his asthma off, nope the boys still ribbed him until he jumped.  I checked for my phone at this point thinking we would be needing an ambulance soon.  A few were warned by others as they moved higher up the jetty to dive higher into shallower water.  In the end only 1 boy didn't go in, his excuse being he didn't have a change of clothes with him but he was ribbed mercilessly,

After they had left I surveyed the rubbish they had left behind and was cursing them with the language they'd just shared so freely but as I saw them all slogging up the steep hill pushing their bikes, still dripping wet I could understand why they didn't want to carry it home.

One lad was still at the jetty trying to start a mini moped, too small to push back, to heavy to carry,  I asked him if he was ok and needed to get it back to the village. He looked at me with "omg a stranger spoke to me, should I run eyes".  I asked him as gently as I could if there was anyone else he could call if he was stuck "I s'pose I'll ring my dad but it's really nice of you to stop and ask, thank you very much".  How polite they all were (despite the colourful language).

I think my point is these were clearly well brought up kids, good bikes, nice clothes, only the odd cigarette between them, they had manners and knew the rules and knew what was safe but slowly, as teens boys are prone to, they egged each other on until they were stretching the safety boundaries.  I knew their parents would be furious, but how can you teach them how to say no in a situation like that. 

That water isn't safe to swim in, it's had dangerous algae year after year, it was freezing cold, it is shallower than it's ever been, you can't see the bottom as it was churned up and seeing the receding water shows there are concrete slabs in places at the bottom.

And yet I watched them have a great time and I was so happy these boys were swimming in the grime rather than standing at shootings, shooting up or a myriad of other news worthy events.

I'm left wondering yet again how we managed to grow to adulthood intact given the stupid things we did and how these kids are going to manage to do the same...


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