I have always wanted to know what was occurring in my neighborhood, as well as the national community, so when I was introduced to the News Literacy Project (NLP), I wanted to join immediately.
We met professional journalists who taught us how to organize a professional-sounding pieces on our topic: peer pressure. We used narration, ambient sound and interviews. We then placed them in a specific order that made the story flow.
This radio piece was very challenging, because we had to interview students who have endured peer pressure and were willing to share their experiences on the record. The majority of the students were frightened about sharing their experiences even though they could be anonymous sources.
While interviewing expert sources, we learned that there is actually “good” peer pressure as well as “bad” peer pressure. Everyone is familiar with bad peer pressure, but many people are not familiar with the idea of good peer pressure, which pressures you to do something good or better.
Before working on the report, I experienced this kind of peer pressure with some friends who were pressuring me to see my grades on my report card. Not because they wanted to tease me, but because they wanted to help me get my grades up. I got all A’s and B’s on the next one. With bad peer pressure, most students seem to follow along and give in to peer pressure, if for some reason that person has a higher social status at the school, etc.
I definitely feel like I know how to deal with peer pressure now that I have read and learned about it. So when I see peer pressure around me, I try to speak up and help resolve the issue. I try to encourage people to ask someone they trust for advice and to remember what’s best for them. Those that face peer pressure can also think about making a better set of friends who would encourage them to do better things, and who wouldn’t always be engaging them in bad peer pressure.
Deanna James, Age 12
I came in contact with NLP when my school did a showcase about the different after school programs available to students. Since I already wanted to be a journalist and I love to write, I joined.
In NLP we decided to make a radio documentary about peer pressure. We felt this was important because lots of kids at our school were experiencing a lot of peer pressure. I had an important experience with peer pressure in the 4th grade, when a student asked me, “Deanna, can I cheat off your paper so I won’t fail?” At first I said no because I didn’t want to get in trouble, but then I let that person cheat because she said she wasn’t going to be my friend anymore and I felt bad. But I still learned not to let anybody cheat off of me again, because it’s not fair.
Working on the report only made this stronger, and so I really don’t have to face peer pressure; I just walk away from these things and don’t let them get in my way. One of my friends gets put into a lot of pressured situations where people push her over into doing what they want her to do. I tell my peers to pick your friends well, and that some people are not the friends you want to be with—friends respect you for who you are.
I learned a lot of other things doing this report, like how to pick a good topic, write good open-ended questions, and edit recordings. I also learned the importance of interviewing and asking follow-up questions in order to get a good story.
These skills are important to me because they helped me to become a better journalist and writer. Ever since I joined the NLP I have also become a better student. I learned new words, listen in class more, and write better.