Text version for 'Under pressure 11-14'

In this activity, students are asked to read the stories of several young people, and think about what they would advise them to say and do. They can read advice from two young agony aunts, Keiron and Bethany, and see if they agree with their opinions.

All of the young people are finding themselves under pressure – to behave in a risky manner, or accept the risky behaviour of others. This activity encourages students to think of strategies for dealing with this type of situation, in order to keep themselves and others safer.

If you need to talk to someone about a problem yourself, visit: www.childline.org.uk

Rachel, aged 12

Two people from my class keep laughing at me for wearing a cycle helmet when I'm cycling to school. My mum says I have to and the roads are quite busy so I think it's safer to wear one. But I'm sick of the teasing.

Bethany replies:

They want to see you getting upset and bothered by their comments. They'll get bored if you don't react. If you can't ignore them, just tell them calmly that cycling is healthy and good for the environment and a helmet could stop you getting hurt, so you are going to keep cycling and keep wearing it no matter what they say. If they keep on at you, try talking to an adult that you trust about it.

Keiron replies:

They're just being dumb. Take no notice of them. You know that you're right. If you give in to them, they'll just find another reason to pick on you – it's not really about the helmet, they're just being immature.

You could try persuading other people to start cycling and wearing helmets too - that way you won't stand out so much.

Joe, aged 13

Yesterday I was out with my mates, and we were going to the park. There's this really busy road, and my friend Idris put his hand up to stop the traffic and walked straight out. Everyone followed, so I just ran out too. I felt stupid after though – we could have been hurt. And one of the drivers was shouting stuff at us.

Keiron says:

Idris was being an idiot. You might get away with that sort of behaviour most of the time, but what about that one time that you don't? And it only takes one time.

You're relying on the driver to stop, but do you really want to put your life in the hands of a stranger? What if they're going too fast to stop? What if they're not concentrating and they don't even see you?

If the others want to risk their lives, let them - just go your own way and meet them there.

Bethany says:

I'm learning to drive at the moment and I would be so scared if you and your mates just stepped out in front of me. I would've shouted at you too!

Idris might think he looks big making the traffic stop for him, but how big would he look if one of his mates got hurt because they followed his lead?

If he does it again, say that you're going to find a better place to cross. I bet some of your mates follow you. And if they don't, at least you tried to keep them safe, and you're staying safe yourself.

Asma, aged 14

The six of us have been friends since Year 7. Daisy always seems to be picking on one of us, even though we're all meant to be friends. It'll be little things - criticising everything you say, everything you wear, leaving you out, making you do stuff you don't want to. At the moment she's picking on me. She said some horrible things in front of everyone because I wouldn't drink alcohol at Maddy's party. I cried in front of everyone, but she just said I was being too sensitive.

Keiron says:

I just don't understand this kind of behaviour! If one of my mates acted like this, they wouldn't be my mate anymore. But I know it's not always that simple when you have to see someone in school all the time, and all your mates are also mates with that person, and maybe too scared of being the next target to challenge them.

There's no point having a big argument – Daisy is just going to deny that she does anything wrong. I would try spending more time with other people you know and gradually move away from that group.

Bethany says:

Sometimes the worst bullying can come from people who are supposed to be your friends, which is weird. My guess is that Daisy is insecure and that putting other people down makes her feel better about herself.

As a group, you have to let Daisy know it's not on. Next time she says something mean to someone else, stick up for them. And have an answer ready next time she says something to you. Daisy won't like it, but if you make sure you're being reasonable and not nasty she'll know deep down that you're right.

Sash, aged 14

My dad is like the WORST driver. He's got proper road rage. Always shouting – at other drivers, at cyclists, at people walking. He's on his mobile all the time. Half the time he doesn't even put his seatbelt on.

Keiron says:

I bet your dad wouldn't be impressed by you telling him he's a bad driver. But that's the truth, and he's not only risking his own life, but yours, and everyone else on the road too. There's a good reason that the law says that you wear your seatbelt and don't use a mobile when you're driving.

Instead of criticising him and making him get all defensive, maybe you could talk about what you've done in school about road safety and ask him what he thinks.

Bethany says:

Your dad sounds like a dodgy driver to me. Could you talk to him and say that you are sometimes scared for what might happen to him in a crash if he does not wear his seatbelt? Say that you have seen the adverts on the television about what can happen in a crash.

If you think he won't listen to you, or will get angry, is there another adult you could talk to, who he would listen to?

Jack, aged 14

I usually hang around with Max and Jade at break times and lunch times. They've started smoking and now it's like they're in some stupid little club. They sneak off to get cigarettes and smoke them. Even though they don't say it, they make out like I'm really boring and childish because I don't smoke too.

Keiron says:

The easy thing is to join them and start smoking. But do you really want to do that? Smoking is expensive and the smell lasts on your clothes for ages. I get the bus with a guy who smokes and he stinks of stale smoke - nasty. Anyway, it's not legal to buy cigarettes until you are 18. I'd let them get on with it, and wait for them to grow up a bit.

Bethany says:

Smoking is awful. Have you ever stood close to anyone who smokes? Yuck - smoker's breath! They must know how bad smoking is for their health, but you could try telling them they just look silly sneaking off for secret smokes - maybe they're the childish ones.

Ask how much money they spend on cigarettes and say that they are literally burning their money. Try to persuade them to stop but if that doesn't work, let them get on with it and stay well away.

Matthew, aged 13

My big brother just passed his driving test. He uses mum's car to give me a lift to football. He always drives really fast and I don't like it. Mum would go MAD if she knew.

Keiron says:

Your brother might think he's a racing driver, but actually he's got hardly any experience and isn't as good as he thinks he is. More collisions happen to young men than any other group of people.

I'd tell your mum - she'll probably stop him from driving her car, and putting himself and you in danger. He'll be upset, but driving like that, he's likely to get banned anyway. You could always ask her not to say you told her - maybe she could say one of her friends saw him.

Bethany says:

Snitching to your mum could cause problems with your brother. Shouting at him to slow down probably won't help either. I'd ask him about how he learned to drive, because you're keen to start when you're old enough. It would be a good way to remind him about all the good things he did when he was learning. Try to make him realise that he's not doing them any more.

Close this window