Peers become important in middle childhood and have an influence distinct from that of parents. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By: Craig Rogers
What is Positive Peer Culture and why is it important? Positive Peer Culture is the influence from a positive perspective, one teen to another. It is widely known that adolescents are influenced by their peers. Many of the Residential Treatment Centers and Therapeutic Boarding Schools for both adolescents and adults have what they call a “positive peer culture” therapeutic model. I had never heard of this term until we joined the ranks of residential treatment for adolescents. It has been my experience that some facilities take this philosophy to an extreme level and others use portions of it, depending on the facility it may or may not be the determining factor for your teen to progress in the levels. All facilities put a priority on how each individual is getting along and contributing with their peers. At Teen Challenge Adolescent Centers and Therapeutic Boarding Schools they use Positive Peer Culture as a “change agent”, a system of positive support based on “Care”, “Trust”, and “Serve”.
For teens there is a tremendous influence on the peer group, programs utilize a therapeutic program, in part, based on “positive peer model and social learning theory”, this shapes individual behavior by drawing on the powerful forces of the peer group. These may have been the forces that contributed to the factor that your teen is in treatment along with the development of negative behaviors and are now activated to foster positive relationships.
The positive peer culture programs are aimed to develop pro-social behavior through the development of a therapeutic community. It is the intent that this community will promote a social environment that takes on both therapeutic and healing properties instead of maintaining negative behaviors. It is the hope that through time the community of peers will develop and maintain positive behaviors and properties. Some of these behaviors may include:
· A sense of belonging.
· A code of conduct that assures a safe environment and promotes pro-social behavior.
· Individual members responding positively to the influences of the community.
· Each member has a sense the he or she can make a significant positive contribution to the community.
· Individuals demonstrate social responsibility to the community, and the community assists residents by providing reinforcement for pro-social behavior.
· Censure of maladaptive behavior.
The central purpose and aim of the therapeutic community is to develop self-worth, significance, dignity and responsibility in each of the residents as they become committed to the positive values of helping and caring for others. The goal is to direct teens away form selfishness and conflict and toward a spirit of concern and service for others.