Peers can represent a decreased level of threat

Compared with adults, peers are more often perceived as posing a decreased level of threat (of being judgmental or of ‘dobbing’ them in).

Young people feel more able to talk openly with their peers than with adults particularly around risk-taking or other behaviours that are frowned on at a societal level.1,2

Young people also feel a need to have control over the decisions that they make and this can often be why they will turn to their peers for information and advice as opposed to a health professional, parent or teacher as there is a sense that they will lose control over their situation.3

Young people are also often concerned about the issues of privacy, anonymity, and confidentiality when they disclose their issues to adults. There is also a sense that peers will be less judgmental and moralistic about behaviours that are perceived to be ‘problematic’.


  1. Backett-Milburn, K & Wilson, S 2000, ‘Understanding peer education: insights from a process evaluation’, Health Education Research, Theory & Practice, vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 85-96.
  2. Visser, MJ 2004, Implementing Peer Support in Schools: Using a Theoretical Framework in Action Research. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 14(6): 436-454.
  3. McDonald, J, Roche, A, Durbridge, M & Skinner, N 2003, Peer Education: From Evidence to Practice: An alcohol and other drugs primer, National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction, Adelaide.