Hardyston Middle School activates the ‘Peer Support Specialist’ movement

Negative peer pressure on students can make them feel like they have to do something to be socially accepted, even when the action might go against their beliefs and values. With the rise of social media channels, viral social media-induced negative peer pressure becomes even more difficult for young students to manage.

Recognizing the need for a good support system from teachers, a school council, and trusted parents, Ethan Barnett, a seventh grader at Hardyston Middle School and now student council president, led a campaign during the 2022 student council election, pledging to work to address issues of negative peer pressure for the school by working with teachers and student council members.

Since then, the council has come up with a concept called the “Peer Support Specialist” (PSS) movement. The project began with an awareness campaign, including the creation of four distinctive large poster designs which were displayed in high traffic areas of the school, as well as the distribution of over 100 PSS badges to wear, as well as reinforcing positive messages at special school assemblies.

The goal of the movement is to offer support to students under negative pressure by providing them with ways to manage the situation together for the best results. The council believes that the presence of such a support system could help reduce bad choices if not.

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