Chapter 2 - Power Subchapter: Social power

Challenging power imbalances in groups

Social power influences all of our social relationships. This influence can be either negative or positive, with the extent of the influence dependant on the nature of the relationship.


Split-frame; the top panel shows three illustrated characters wearing the same shirt, no accessories, and each have indifferent facial expressions; in the bottom panel they are wearing different clothing and have their own hats and accessories, and are happy.


Fitting-in often means adopting the accepted norms of the community or group. Dealing with peer influence and pressure—going against the norms—can be a real challenge.

It’s natural to want to feel a sense of belonging with friends and peers. But it’s important that you reflect on your own personal values and preferences and make decisions based on those rather than on peer pressure or influence.


Tips for handling peer pressure

When you’re faced with pressure from peers to do something that you're not sure about:

  • Give yourself permission to avoid people or situations that don't feel right and leave a situation that becomes uncomfortable.
  • Recognise unhealthy dynamics: It's not OK for others to pressure, force, or trick you into doing things you don't want to do, or for others to make threats if you don't give in.
  • Spend time with people who respect your decisions and won't put pressure on you to conform.
  • Remember that you can't (and don't have to) please everyone or be liked by everyone. This can be hard to accept, but it helps to try.
  • Stand up for others when you see them being pressured. If you don't feel comfortable directly confronting the person doing the pressuring, try distracting them or inviting the person being pressured to do something else.
  • Ask for advice or support from a parent or other trusted adult if you feel like the situation is getting out of hand.


Challenging bullying and harassment

Sometimes it’s hard to know how to react when you find yourself in a situation where either you or someone else is being bullied. Here’s some great tips from PROJECT ROCKIT about how to respond.

  • give a dirty look
  • give a comeback
  • find an ally
  • text or call the person being bullied
  • talk to the right adult.