THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS AND PEER PRESSURE ON ADOLESCENTS’ BEHAVIORAL PATTERNS. A RESEARCH PROJECT TOPICS ON GUIDANCE AND COUNSELING
1.1 Background to the Study
Adolescence is the transitory period the individual passes through in his /her growth from childhood to Adulthood. Studies have shown that the period consists of pressure which may be either internal or external to the young adult (Adams, 2006 & Schneider, 2010). Besides being a transitory period, they posited that it is a time of self-definition for the young individual. The high-risk behaviors of adolescence are the result of multiple causes, often beginning in early childhood, that change with age and are interrelated in complex ways. These causes operate at ecological (e.g., socioeconomic status, neighborhood, cultural context, social-relational (e.g., family members, peers, teachers), and individual (e.g., genetic dispositional factors and temperamental characteristics, sex) levels, that unfold against the backdrop of biological, neuro-cognitive, and emotional maturation and shifts in age-related social-developmental processes.
Research in the past two decades has highlighted the central role of genetics as a major factor contributing to the most troubling and costly outcomes of adolescent risk-taking, including violence, criminal activity and substance use disorders (Jaffee, 2005; Taylor, Iacono, & McGue, 2000). However, there is mounting evidence that genetic influences on a variety of problem outcomes reflect a complex interplay between inherited and environmental risk, with genetic risk leading to pathological behavior for some youth only when the primary socializing environment also is adverse (Cadoret, Winokur, Langbehn, & Rroughton, 1996; Reiss & Leve, 2007; Tienari, 2004).
Families, socioeconomic status and peers, the most significant socializing contexts for the emergence of adolescents’ behavioural patterns, are the foci of this paper. Socioeconomic status on adolescents’ behavioural patterns can only be understood in light of the simultaneous influence of other socializing contexts, particularly the peer context that will be discussed in the next section, but also broader contextual conditions that add to, shape, and moderate the effect of the family (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Collins, Maccoby, Steinberg, Hetherington, & Bornstein, 2000). Conditions such as family poverty, family income, parental education level, neighborhood violence, single parent family status, major family disruptions e.g., (divorce, death of a parent), and cumulative family adversities all have demonstrated effects to increase adolescents’ behavioural patterns (Amato & Keith, 1991; Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Sampson, Raudenbush, & Earls, 1997).