Adolescents’ relationships with their peers

Adolescents’ relationships with their peers

Sarah Gray, Helena Romaniuk and Galina Daraganova

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2017 chapter— November 2018
A group of highschool students walking down a corridor

Peer relationships are very influential in adolescence. During this time, when young people are developing autonomy from their parents, peers become a significant source of social and emotional support. The attitudes of adolescents’ friends can have both a positive and negative influence. Strong peer attachments can enhance a young person’s wellbeing while problems in peer relationships, such as bullying, can have significant psychological, physical, academic and social-emotional consequences for both victims and perpetrators.

Given the significance of peer relationships for adolescents’ development, it is important to understand the nature of these relationships. We provide a snapshot of the peer relationships of Australian adolescents, by describing peer attachments, peer group attitudes, and peer problems as they are reported by young people in mid adolescence.

Key messages

At ages 12–13 and 14–15, over 80% of boys and girls reported having good friends, who they trusted, and who they felt respected their feelings and listened to them.

Nine out of 10 14–15 year olds said they had friends who were respectful of teachers and worked hard at school.

More than two in five 14–15 year olds said that their friends disliked school, around one in five said that their friends put popularity above grades, and one in 10 girls and one in six boys said that their friends get into trouble at school.

One in 20 14–15 year olds said that some of their friends engage in risky behaviours such as trying drugs, smoking cigarettes, getting into fights or breaking the law.

One in five 14–15 year olds reported being the victim of bullying in the past month. However, fewer than one in 10 (7%) admitted to being a bully.

Having friends with high levels of moral behaviour or a positive attitude towards school was associated with a lower likelihood of being a victim of bullying. While having friends who engaged in more risky behaviours increased the likelihood of being bullied and of also being a bully.

Authors and Acknowledgements

Featured image: © GettyImages/SolStock

Publication details

LSAC Annual Statistical Report 2017 chapter
Published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies, November 2018.

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