What Relationships Mean in Our Lives

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Peer Groups: Students' Work - Other Texts

 

What Are Peer Groups?

Friends Walk with Me

Top Ten Lists about Your Peers

My Best Friend

What Are Friends?

Bullying

Friendship: Texts from Turkey

 

two interlocking hands

 

What are Peer Groups?

First of all, what are peer groups at all?

Here are some characteristics: Peers are people who …

  • are of the same age,
  • live near each other,
  • have similar interests,
  • are friends (isn't necessary),
  • want to be different from the adults' world (if they are young).

During a study in youth camps in 1987 by Savin-Williams there were six male groups and four female groups with four to six members in each group. The most dominant members (the "leaders") also showed the most pro-social behaviour.

The leaders' characteristics: physically more mature, bigger, weigh more, a bit older than the others. The group members described them as bodily attractive, intelligent and sporty; the camp coaches described them as leader personalities.

So Savin-Williams concluded peer groups used this structure to stabilize and to reduce stress in the group.

So the functions of peer groups are

  • contacts in the peer group,
  • social support by friends,
  • the opportunity to try out new roles and new social behaviour,
  • making contact with the other sex easier,
  • support during the absence of the parents,
  • dealing with normal structures in society.

Communication in the peer group:

  • is short and scanty,
  • is different from the adults' language,
  • supports the feeling of solidarity.

Communication without words:
Important are group activities like sports, making or listening to music and using the computer.

(author: B., boy, Germany)

 

Friends Walk with Me

I see friends as a part of my life, but only for a period of time. I am on my way and they walk with me until they leave. I think friends are important for your social life, because everybody needs someone to talk to or to spend time with.

I have good friends too, but it's hard to call someone my best friend, because it depends on how I think about him or her and that changes pretty often. Besides that, there is not even a real definition for the word "best friend".

If I had to choose one person that I would call my best friend, it would be my boyfriend, because he is the person who is closest to me. We have fun together and he always cheers me up when I am sad and the other way around. I think that is what best friends do.

In my opinion, it is hard to be a good friend. You have to be nice, straight and honest at the same time, which is impossible sometimes. You have to accept that friends are not perfect, just as you and you can't expect them to always share the same opinion with you. Friends are there to tell you if you are wrong and show you different point of views but they are also there to make you happy and support you.

Finally, friends are important for you, but you also need some time for yourself. Everybody has his own definiton of friendship, so have I.

(author: S., girl, Germany)

 

Top Ten Lists about Your Peers

Good:

1. They help us with our homework.
2. They help us with our learning.
3. They help us with our problems.
4. They make us laugh.
5. They forgive us our mistakes.
6. They're not afraid of being themselves.
7. They hook up with us.
8. They back us up in every situation.
9. They'll always be on our side.
10. We can trust them and vice versa.

Bad:

1. They are offended for no reason.
2. Sometimes they have no time for us.
3. Sometimes they're not able to understand us.    
4. We argue from time  to time due to our different points of view.
5. They betray us.
6. They gossip about us.
7. They tell bad things about us.
8. They don't care about our problems.
9. They hide the truth.
10. They reveal the secrets.

(authors: D. and K., girls, Poland)

 

My Best Friend

In the following text I will describe the friendship to a person who is very close to me. This girl has got short brown hair and blue eyes. She's taller but two years younger than me. Her name is X. She goes to our school and lives in Mülheim.

X. is a very friendly and polite person, who is very helpful too. She's self-confident, ambitious and determined. X. smiles all day. She's our smiley!

 You can often see that X. has got a good knowledge of human nature. This quality can be helpful from time to time.

X. is not a person who tells you things you want to hear. She's truthful and tells you her opinion about something honestly, if you ask her.

But she's also a person who wants to do everything right and she is afraid to neglect someone. I think she often has got a bad conscience if she doesn't have time to meet me or to meet others when I or another friend ask her.

She's a curious and interested person in a positive way.

We are both music freaks. At the moment we listen to the same band, which I knew from a casting show. At the beginning I disliked them. I think because I didn't know them. But after a few weeks X. started to listen to their music and another few weeks later I listened to their music too. The band did a concert in our area and X. and I got tickets for this. It was a great evening and I will never forget it. And I'm happy that I was there with my best friend!

But listening to the same kind of music is the only one of our common interests. For example, X. likes motorbikes and cars. When she speaks about an Audi R8. I don't know which car it is. I don't know why X. likes this car and why it's better than other cars. I'm not interested in cars at all. But when B: tells me something about a new car I listen to what she says because I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't show interest in the things she likes.

The other way around it's the same. I like reading a lot. X. reads, but not the sort of books I read. I like discussing and I like starting  a discussion. X. doesn't like it and is a bitannoyed if I start a discussion.

We both have different kind of hobbies. In my free-time I go swimming and practise for the next tournament. B: likes swimming but she likes playing the guitar more. And also she doesn't like working with children like I do. The only common hobby is meeting friends or to be outside on sunny days.

Our friendship is easy and uncomplicated. We go to the same school and see each other  on the way to school and back from school to home on the bus. We write text messages or talk on the phone and we meet in the afternoon, usually on weekends, study days or in the holidays, because we both have much to do.

If we are going out together you don't see that I'm two years older because most of the time X. appears older. At the beginning I failed to see this because from time to time I can be a pretty stubborn person. That time I made a lot of mistakes. I ignored X. Now I know it's better, and I am ashamed if I think back to this time, but it's normal to make mistakes, And you learn by them.

We also have other conflicts and often disagreements but we talk sensibly with each other and then we forget it. But all in all it's not important for our friendship. We haven't got the same interests, the same hobbies, but we are friends. We are a good example of opposites attracting each other.

In this text I often wrote that X. and I don't have the same interests. That is not completely true. We both want a friend who is reliable, who understands us and who supports us. That's the only criterion which is important for a friendship. And like an old Latin proverb says: "Amicus certus in re cernitur". That means that when you're in trouble and you need help you see who's a real best friend.

Nobody's perfect and also no friendship is perfect. But what's the problem? It would be boring without conflicts but not too much because that's the real life.

(author: S., girl, Germany)

The person I want to describe is my best friend, who is popular in class. I like him very much, he's like a brother for me. It's true brotherly love between us, so he is very special to me. What is special about his character is that he's always happy and reliable, when we meet and in other situations as well. I tell him all my secrets, he is always curious about them. When I have a conversation with him, I'm always laid-back and I'm honest in what I say to him. He has much money but he stays modest, he buys me food or drinks sometimes, but I do the same for him. His  favourite hobby is motocross, he does it every Sunday,  but this hobby is very dangerous because in this sport there is a risk that you is die if you are not careful. Another hobby is something we share. We both like basketball and break dance. I feel fine when we meet,  because of all these reasons is he my best friend.

(author: N., Germany)

 

What Are Friends?

(The following texts were written by students from the Danish school.)

Friends is all. Money is not all in your life. You need friends to make you happy. And you can trust them. You cannot trust money. Friends are there for you when you need them. And they believe you when you say something to them. I cannot think a life without friends I will think I’m dead. You will have some of them all life. I will never forget my friends, I will remember every one of them until I’m dead. So remember this: don’t lose your friends.

(author: C., boy )

People can have different opinions about what a good friend is, and what a good friend should be able to do and say. Like whenever you need a friend to talk with.
My opinion about what a good friend is, when you can trust on this friend. A good friend has to keep the secrets that you share with the friend, because you choose to tell your secrets, and trust the friend.
A good friend can also be the perfect one to do almost everything with. You can talk about how annoying parents can be, when you, for example, have some bad conversations with them. You can also talk about gossip, but that is more girls you can do that with, according to me. Only few boys want to talk about girl stuff, and they are usually gay. Another special thing you also can talk about is what you have been doing in your spare time, or if there maybe has happened something funny, at handball training or something like that.
The benefits about having friends is that you are never alone. You always have someone you can talk with if you need it, or if you just want to have fun. Personally, I am very happy to have so many good friends to support me. Especially when I have problems or when I’m sad.
But the issues about having friends are that sometimes you find out that you can’t really trust them.
I have experienced many times that my friends have told my secrets to other people and talked behind my back. I felt like a fool, because I trusted them so much. But on the other hand, I found out who really is there for me and wants the best for me. But I can’t live without my friends. They fill everything in my day. At school, after school, whenever we chat on Facebook and at the weekends, where we sometimes hold sleepovers together and stuff like that.

(author: C., girl)

Humankind is not supposed to be alone, some prefer to be alone, but I don’t think it’s healthy to be alone all the time. Therefore I think it is quite necessary to have friends. I don’t like to be around other people all the time, but I’m glad that I have my two best friends, who I really enjoy spending time with. My best friends are someone I know I can trust, talk to if I feel the need to vent about my family, school or just things in general and be myself with. We don’t spend all of our time together, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t had a sleepover that lasted for four days or been on small vacations together. I think that shows we are comfortable with each other, and I believe that is an important quality to have in a best friend. I don’t necessarily need to be best friends with someone to have a good time. I believe that you can pass time with someone and still have fun, without them necessarily having the title as my best friend. Becoming best friends takes time, because there are a lot of criteria that need to be met.
I don’t really have a lot of friends besides my best friends, so when I’m sometimes alone and people ask me why I "only" have two best friends, I say that it is because I would rather be alone  than be "friends" with 10, whom I don’t really trust or can be myself with.
 I also agree with the saying, Quality over Quantity.
When we get older, I hope that we will still not only be in touch but have the same kind of relationship we have now. Of course there will be a lot of other responsibilities we have to meet, but I hope we can manage to at least do some of the things we do now.
It is very important to me that I have such good friends, because otherwise I would become crazy spending all of my time at home with my family.

(author: E., girl)

For me a good friend is one I can count on, one I know is loyal to his principles. A good friend is one I can go to for help, one I can tell funny things and one I can joke with, without him getting mad.
Personally I like to do many things and a good friend is one that I can do some of those things with. For example I like sitting, playing computer and Playstation so a good friend is one I can do that with. But a good friend is, to me, also one I can get mad at and then the next morning we can talk like nothing has happened.
I like having friends, because it gives me confidence and understanding for what others are thinking and could be thinking, to have friends. I think it is important to have friends. Because to have friends also give one a better position in social life. I think that to have friends is a part of life and that it gives me a better foundation.
I also think that no matter how old I am I will always need friends, like I think that the only thing that is changing from when I was little, to now, to being an adult is the way I talk to my friends and what we talk about. For example when I was in 3rd class we talked about Pokémon and how that was the best in the littelput team, while today we talk about football players (professional), computer games, girls and parties, well girls and parties I don't talk about. And probably I will talk of some totally other things with my friends when I am going to the twenties.
Also when I was little boys thought that girls were disgusting, but without realizing they had a girl as a friend, they just wanted to be cool. While today we don’t think that girls is disgusting, we rather think that they are sweet, maybe we don’t realize it but that is why we are teasing them. I personally think that you can have one of the other sex just as a friend.

(author: F., boy)

I think that friends are one of the most important things to have in the world, and if we didn’t have our friends there wouldn’t be anyone to care about you or cheer you up when you are down. Some of your friends are true friends, and some aren’t, and unfortunately we only have a few true friends. Our friends are there to comfort, to laugh and to make memories with. If I didn’t have my friends, I don’t think that I would make it through the day. Just because a person is of the opposite sex, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends. I think that it is stupid when people won’t be friends with people, just because they are of the opposite sex. A friend is someone who treats you just as well as you treat them. I have a lot of friends and I don’t think it matters if they are boys or girls, but all of my friends are true friends. They are helpful and reliable, and it doesn’t matter what he or she looks like.
Usually when you are 0 to about 8-9 years old it doesn’t matter if your friend is a boy or a girl, but most people have a little period in their life when boys and girls just CAN’T be friends. That period usually goes away when you get a little bit older.
Best friends can be really hard to find, I only have two best friends. There are many qualities a best friend must have. My best two friends are always there for me. They are great listeners. If I ask her or him for advice, they would give it to me. I can always trust them and of course they can always trust me to, and above all that, we always have a great time together.
True friends are those who see you for who you are, and not for who they want you to be. A friend who helps out when we are in trouble is a true friend, unlike others who disappear when trouble arises. They care about you, and they cheer you up when you are down. If your friends don't do those things, they aren’t your true friends.

(author: K.)

What is a friend? I would say that a true friend is first of all someone you can be yourself with. There’s no meaning in being in a friendship where you have to be someone you’re not. And it’s also important to have a friend you can trust. A friend you can tell all your secrets and talk about them together.
But if that’s a good friend, what is a bad friend then? I think that a bad friend is someone who will not be there when you need him/her, or someone who says bad thing about you behind your back. Both things can hurt so badly and a good friend wouldn’t do that to you, if the person really cared about you.
You can also easy be in a friendship with someone of the opposite sex. And being in a relationship with someone of the opposite sex doesn’t have to lead to a relationship. Many people think that it does.
And you need friends. You need someone to be close to and to keep you company. You can of course go to your family to get those things but it will not be quite the same as a good friend. And you can do anything with a good friend. I know that from my own experience. You can do the craziest thing and not feel ashamed or embarrassed, because your friend will do the same things with you.
I think that getting friend when you’re a teenager or grown up is much harder than when you were little. When you were in kindergarden or something like that, you could just over go a random boy or girl, and just play like you have been friends forever. You didn’t think so much about it.
When you're a teenager or grown up, you think too much about how you act and what other people think about you. That’s a shame, I think. You should just be able to do it like you did in kindergarden and just talk to the people you want, without worrying about it.
Friend is something that you need and always will need. I personally don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have my friends by my side. It’s the greatest thing you could ever wish for.

(author: M., girl)

My name is M. I’m 15 years old and I have some great friends, and what I mean by a good friend is: A good friend is someone that is loyal to you and will help if there is the smallest problem or thing that annoys you. You can always count and trust on them, you can tell them your biggest secrets and you know that they will keep them to themselves. A good friend is there if you are sad or confused about something, they will help you to get out of your trouble as well as they can, they won’t let themselves be stopped by any kind of troubles, they will help you out again so you can be happy and not annoyed at something. A good friend is also someone you can talk to about anything with because they will not laugh at you or tell it to others of their friends.
That is my opinion of a great friend, but sadly there is also bad friends, very bad. You can’t use a bad friend for anything, because they will tell other rubbish about you and your closest friends. They will tell all the secrets you would have told them through the time you have known them. They would not stand behind you if you got in trouble, they will actually do anything not to get involved in your trouble. They won’t do anything to help you out of your troubles, because they would rather see your pain and misery, because they find it entertaining and fun to watch. They will do almost everything to start a bad rumor or they will tell false gossip, other classmates or friends will look down on you. A bad friend is pretty much a backstabber in the end. 
Now that is a very bad and evil friend, you can’t use him or her for anything, they are just evil and mean. But we have to hold on to the good friends because we need friends, because we can’t tell all of our thoughts to our parents and sisters. It’s not all of our secret thoughts they need to know. You don’t walk up to your parents and say, “Hey mom, Mike from my class smokes”. That is something you keep between you and your friends. We also need friends because most of young people can get really tired of being with their family all the time, we need to get away from them sometimes and just hang out with our closest friends.
My view of having a friend of the opposite sex is, it’s nice to have friends of the opposite sex, because with them you can talk about things you and guy friends would talk about, and if you have a crush and don’t know what to do or say, you can ask them to give you some advice and maybe talk with your crush so you can get an overview about stuff she likes and doesn't like.
I like to hang out with my friends and talk about random unnecessary things because you can always get a good laugh out of it, but some of the funniest things to talk about are old memories, because between friends there are many funny memories.

(author: M., boy)

What is a good / bad friend?
A good friend is someone you can talk to, laugh with, trust and have fun with. Someone who is there to listen to you, to help you when you have problems, someone who is loyal and respects you for the person you are, someone you can tell your darkest secrets. You like some of the same things. A good friend is there for you through all things that comes your way. A good friend is someone who understands you, because he or she knows you well.
A bad friend is someone who talks about you behind your back. Someone you can’t trust, someone you can’t tell secrets to. Someone you don’t like. Someone you can’t stand to be with for more than a few hours.

Why do we need friends?
We need friends because we need someone to talk to. Someone you know understands and likes you. With friends you have fun and do things together. Friends are important and can cheer you up when you are sad.

What do you like to do together with your friends?
We like to watch films on television, to go to the cinema, to go shopping, to talk, to play PS3, to watch television and to go on holiday together.

Can you have friends of the opposite sex, why / why not?
Yes, we can have friend of the opposite sex. We may be physically different, but we have many same interests and are into many of the same things. If we couldn't be friends with the opposite sex, how could we be boyfriends and girlfriend?

How has the issue of friends changed since you were small?
When we were small we often played with dolls and beads or we dressed up. Now we are together and listen to music watch films or TV-series.

How do you think the issue will change when you become an adult?
We will go to parties and drink alcohol, have boyfriends and discuss these subjects and laugh about the stuff we did when we were small.

(author: L., girl)

A good friend is someone you can trust. Someone you can tell everything. You can tell secrets and be sure that they are not being spread. Someone you can always talk to, and who is always there if you need help. And one you can be with, and have fun with.
A bad friend can be someone who uses you. One who is not really interested in a good friendship. A person who tells your secrets to other persons. And who is talking bad about a person behind his back. And one who is embarrassed to be together with someone.
We need friends in order not to feel or be alone. To have someone to talk to, and be with. And to get help if you need it. And then it is all much easier, when you have someone who helps you.
When I'm with my friends we play computer or play station. I also play the same sport as my friends, we are also together there and talk together.
You can have friends from the opposite sex. You probably don't have the same interests. But it is normal to have friends of the opposite sex, and you can easily talk to each other. And we don't talk about the same things, as if you spoke with one of the same sex.
The issue about friends has not changed much since we were kids. We do some other things when we are together. It is easier to talk to a person of the opposite sex, and you talk more with them. You spend the same time with friends now, as you did before. But the contact is better than before.
It will still not change much, when you get older. There will be almost the same number of friends from the opposite sex as well as from the same sex. You may not spend as much time together, and have not so much contact as before. Because you now have work or studies that take most of your time. Perhaps even family.

(author: A., boy)

When we were younger, it was easy to have friends. You could be friends with anybody, boys and girls. We used to play a kissing game, where the girls ran after the boys and took them into a bicycle shed and kissed them. When you got into a fight it wasn’t something serious, and you became friends again pretty fast.
Today, when you get into a fight, it can go on for weeks. And you kind of form a team that is on your side, and dislike the ones you are in a fight with even though they have nothing to do with it. And without you knowing it, all of sudden there are two “teams” that hate each other and say bad things about each other. And then all of sudden you are like best friends again. When you are a teenager conflicts are very difficult.
Also, when we were smaller, everybody could be friends with everybody, both boys and girls. Now boys and girls are separated in groups. And they are almost only together if they are boyfriend and girlfriend. Of course there are boys and girls that are friends. But I also think that there is a reason that boys and girls aren’t friends like girl/girl and boy/boy: girls say mean things behind each other's back and they are really mean to each other for a really long time, and boys just punch each other and then it's over. And boys cant punch girls, and girls just don’t say mean things behind boys' backs. I think that when we get older it will get easier to be friends again because then you are mature enough not to punch and say mean things. Also it’s probably harder to really get upset about each other. I sure hope so.

(author: S., girl)

 

Bullying

What is bullying?

Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things in order to have power over another person. Bullies bully other people for example by saying or writing nasty things about them, excluding them of activities, making them feel uncomfortable or scared, taking or damaging their things, hitting or kicking them or making them do things they don't want to do.

Why do some people bully other people?

There are a lot of reasons imaginable why some people bully others. They may see it as a way of becoming popular. Some bullies do it to get attention or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. Maybe some bullies are being bullied themselves. Some bullies may not even understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes the person being bullied feel.

Why are some young people bullied?

Some young people are bullied for no particular reason, but sometimes it's just because they are different in some way, maybe it's the colour of their skin, the way they talk, their size or their name.

Why is bullying dangerous?

Some people think bullying is just part of growing-up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can make young people feel lonely or unhappy. It makes them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. They lose confidence and may not want to go to school any more. It makes them sick.

(author: J., girl, Germany)

 

Friendship: Texts from Turkey

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(author: E., girl, Turkey)

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(author: H., girl, Turkey)

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(author: Z., girl, Turkey)

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(author: S., girl, Turkey)

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(author: M., girl, Turkey)

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(author: E., girl, Turkey)