By Caroline Moledor, Age 13

I know that upon reading this title you are probably thinking that this is just another boring article stressing the already-stressed importance of good company. I know that most people are tired of hearing about it. But I also know that the good company is more important than most people presume!

Everyone has been told many times in their life that “You are who you hang out with.” A few years ago, I would just nod my head and pretended to agree while really thinking “That’s not true. As long as I don’t listen to bad influences or do what they do, I’ll be fine.” I didn’t know how wrong I was.

It is truly amazing how much we act like the people we are around. Children often inherit traits from their parents or caregivers because they are around them so much. My brother and I act so similar and are so in-sync that we have most of the same ideas at the same time. This is the same with anyone, even bad influences.

Often, you don’t even realize that the people who you are around may be bad influences. Sometimes you have to be around those people in school or other activities, and there is no way to avoid them. But remember that even if they are doing certain things or pressuring you into joining them, you are not forced to do anything! Be safe and make the right choice.

I feel that one easy habit to fall into is using profane language. Some people throw around certain words so casually and frequently that it makes it seem less offensive more innocent. If you spend enough time around those people, you may find yourself speaking a lot like them. Trust me, I know. In a lot of situations, profanity can get you into a god amount of trouble!

Another dangerous thing that is easy to fall into around bad company is bullying. If someone bullies you, especially more than once, it seems less harmful and ok to do it yourself. This is one of the main causes of bullying today, and it needs to be avoided now more than ever. It is okay to tell someone you are being bullied. It will keep you and others safe if you do!

If you start choosing the immoral and harmful actions of the bad influences around you, those influences might start to seem like your friends, and you could lose some of your real friends. Your real friends were friends with you, not this bad influence you’ve become. Remember to keep your good friends very close!

If you have to spend time with bad influences at activities and things, just try to ask yourself if your actions are moral and good. Perhaps you can be a good influence on the others!

I’m not suggesting that people who may be a bad influence on you in some ways are all bad and should be completely avoided. Every person has their struggles, and maybe those people don’t know what they’re doing is wrong. We still need to love them and respect them!

I hope this was helpful, and I hope you and all of us will go out into the world as influences for good.