The influence of Peer Group on the Special Needs Children discussed in previous blogs we examined the effects of heredity , the home and the school on the special needs children. In this chapter we are going to look at peer group and its effects on special needs children. We shall identify why some children resort to activities which retard them socially and educationally ,through describing characteristics associated with special needs children
A Peer Group:Morrish says ,"A peer is an equal and peer group is a group composed individuals who are equal." Peer means equal in rank ,merit or quality.The peers are generally the same age.They identify themselves with the group. The peer group of children share equal status , provides thought and behaviour to be adopted by its members and it establishes attitudes,opinions and subcultural ideas which they are expected to adopt. All members have a sense of oneness with the group its goals and this can led to a variety of mass behaviour in relation to teachers,heads and other peers.
Induction into peer group which in a way amounts to loss of one's individuality takes
approximately between the ages of seven to 14 years. But earlier in childhood the individual is self -centred ,as growing older she/he realises that there are other people around him/her who have probably more infuential on his/her behaviour that him/her. Later he/she realised that there is need to be in a peer group. In the peer group the child learns to live , play in cooperation and compete with peers. The child develops the sense of self control ,express acceptable feelings ,play roles and learns social techniques. Hence the peer group accept him as an individual who can do something and what he is.
Rules and Norms:Children in their peer group have sets of their own rules which need to be observed by every member. If one don't observe them and breaks one of them will face punisments ranging from beaten,expelled from the group or deprived certain moral benefits. These rules may be modified by common agreement. For instance boys who play social soccer formulate rules which may be different from those set by FIFA , and they vary from one point to another or they can modified to suit the dominant members. The height of the goal post can be measured by the height of the goal -keeper and how high he can jump. Any balls passing above the highest point the keeper can jump and aren't counted as scores,but if the goal-minder doesn't jump or the ball passes at a height which the peers consider lower enough for the minder to have caught it,it is counted as a score.Peers' rules partaining to games are mutually agreed on what is considered acceptable and fair to everyone.
Abraham (1952) once identifies the adolescents ' peer group has freedom they didn't find in the adult world. The freedom from control and over protection.
Although some members of the peer group behave in a way adults may consider silly because the children are not psychologically free to behave in a diferent manner. They have been turned into prisoners of the peer group which controls them ,for example ,the peer group gives or denies and individual status in his own right. He is not identified by the status given him by his own parents ,but by what the peer group gives him. Therefore he must behave in a way acceptable to the group inorder to be accepted ,for example ,as leader of the group.
The member of the peer group cannot afford to ignore the group because of the influence and provision of anchor and comfort during hardy times and troublesome situations in which members share similar problems such as those faced by adolescents during their phase of development and transformation crisis. The peer group is the source of inspiration and make to ease some of the problems either in a constructive or destructive manner.Normally a child can't attempt to isolate from the peer group because this means isolation exposed you to become and adult child who is free from the group's norms. It is difficult because taking that freedom route is hard as children are unable to do their own thinking and take responsibility for their own behaviour. Becoming a free child adult has its own shortcomings like not matured ,socially ,emotionally and intellectually.
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