DEAR ABBY: I'm a 14-year-old boy. I went to a party last weekend and some people pressured me to do some uncomfortable stuff. Can you advise me -- and other teens -- how to handle peer pressure? -- ASHAMED IN ILLINOIS
DEAR ASHAMED: I'll try. Please remember that it takes a strong and confident person not to follow the crowd and stick to your own convictions -- especially when you want to fit in. But it is those who value their self-respect more than "mob" respect, who care about their reputations (and their records) who summon up the courage to say, "Thanks, but I'll pass," when enticed into doing things that are senseless, dangerous, illegal or immoral. It takes character to go it alone rather than follow the crowd, to listen to your conscience and act in your own best interests -- but it pays off big time, especially when you see the price others pay for going astray.