Henry Kalule (not real names) hailed from an upper middle class family. His parents were well-educated and worked in different ministries of the government. They were ambitious and wanted their three children to be professionals in the future. They drilled this motivation right from their primary schools. To please their parents children tried to live up to his parents’ expectations though often times it was too much especially for Kalule. He always wished to spend more time on games, music, friends and the like. Thus Henry has been pressurized to do things which his mind was far away from.
Henry was not that intelligent his parents wish him to be. He is just little above average in his mental abilities. Putting too much pressure on him did not do much good. He scored rather good results in him Primary Leaving Examinations. He had wished to join an elite private school known for its media attention and colourful parties they hold. Instead his parents got him admitted in a leading Christian founded school known for serious academic programmes and discipline. He did not settle well in school as it was not his choice of school.
Henry managed to remain in the school for two years and it was noted that he was easily influenced by his class-mates and was part of a “gang” that “terrorized” the school. Among the terrorizing boys Henry was normally a passive participant rather than “architect” of problems. Often he was found unable to answer any of the problems created by the group. The school authorities politely called his parents and advised them to take him to another school preferably a day school where he will be monitored and he will have less contact with too many students.
Settling down in a new school for Form III was not easy for him. He found the facilities of the school average but being a day-school there was lot of freedom for students especially in movements. He tried his best to fit himself in the new situation. He began to look for friends of his choice: boys with trendy dresses bit of cash, talk fashionable words and who exhibit “style” in basketball and music. With his handsome appearance, enough pocket money and skills in basketball made him a hero among at least 10 boys.
It is a matter of fact that girls in second part of Form II and the years follow become conscious of their body and its admirable features. Many students are easily influenced by their peers and become models to each other in good and bad ways. They begin to notice their “admirers”. Many girls feel the pressure of having friends among boys. Such was a girl called Sharon Kahumuza in his class. She always wanted to be “noticeable” in school. She bragged whenever she got attention from boys and prided herself of “hooking” them by a mere smile or look. Now she was “captivated” by Henry the new basketball star. In their open washroom of the dormitory while taking showers, in her girlish talk Sharon challenged the girls that soon Henry will be her latest “admirer”. She laid strategy for her plans. In their own childish behaviour many girls encouraged Sharon in her “games”.
But some other Girls also warned her of her behaviour. They advised her not to play emotional games with boys. Showing “girl-power” would ultimately ruin her. And it is not worth getting goodies from boys that would only enslave her. One of her Prefect rightly said, ‘I am wondering what you want from this boy, though he looks nice, he is just another worthless boy’. Thus adolescent life presents good and bad side of pressures.
Sharon understood that basketball was Henry’s favourite game and it is easy to hook him by posing herself as his fan. She made it a point to watch him playing basketball every evening and cheer him. To be cheered by a popular girl and that too within few days of being in school boosted his morale. In few days time they became “thick” friends. But soon what annoyed Sharon was that her new catch was also very popular among other girls of the school. She began to pick quarrels with anyone who was talking to him. This put Henry into embarrassing situation and he wanted to end every contact with Sharon. He exhibited aversion at the sight of her.
Now Sharon became a laughing stock among her friends in the dormitory. She had a great pressure within her to normalize her popularity in the crowd. Her name too was tarnished. As these events enfolded, Henry too was well aware of every happening. He shared his feelings with his basketball team-mates. They said many things in crude words. One said, ‘you have wasted much pocket money on her, now the only thing you can do is to slap her in public’. Another said, ‘just give us permission, we will tell everyone that she requested you for sex’. Yet another one said, ‘she has made you stupid by playing emotional games with you’. But one also said something sensible, ‘I thought both of you were having innocent friendship, but now I will be afraid of being your friend’. Thus adolescents waste their precious time, peace of mind and resources on travail matters.
These exchange of friendship is time consuming, peace consuming and academic obstacle. Teen age pressures can help friends to go through the stages of life smoothly by sharing thoughts which would be difficult to share with others, especially elders. It can motivate a companion to do better and build one’s self-esteem and confidence. “Good pressures” from a role model brings moral support when things go wrong and learn good lessons for life.
At the same time negative pressure misdirect a companion in the essential stages of development through bad examples, bad thought, ill-advice and boosting a false self-esteem. Some bully others through pressure to do evil, make wrong decisions and even impart addictive habits. Some bad habits thoughtlessly learnt can make a deep impact on adolescents and can remain for years to come.
It is the duty of teachers, especially those in charge of counselling and guidance to talk to the students on regular basis. Also identify friendship groups that are unhealthy and unconstructive. Students who have a tendency to be easily influenced need to be monitored and helped individually. Keeping students busy with creative activities also will help.