'Who are you?' said the caterpillar. Alice replied rather shyly, 'I -- 1 hardly know, sir, just at present -- at least 1 know who 1 was when 1 got up this morning, but 1 must have changed several times since then. '
(Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland)
Alice's reply to the caterpillar, is a poignant statement of the uncertainties young people face as they separate more completely than ever before from their emotional ties to parents, and as they establish an independent sense of identity. Rarely does this process occur smoothly'; rather it is usually marked by cycles of progression and regression. The awesome act of stepping out on one's own is often followed by a return to earlier states of dependency. Brothers and sisters, friends, parents and teachers are confused and uncertain at times, wondering how to take the various moods and faces of the formerly predictable child. Adolescent conflicts may remind adults of earlier difficult times in their own lives and make their attitudes ambivalent as both young and old seek new ways of relating to one another.
The ways in which social relationships change through the teens has been the subject of research in Britain, the United States, Australia and New Zealand. All these investigations have pointed to certain common and predictable events that adolescents live through as they struggle to find identities and pathways into the adult world. This report is about the particular changes in social interaction which New Zealand research has revealed. Comments from young people themselves are included in the hope that readers will gain insights about the conflicts and concerns many teenagers experience during their late primary and secondary school years.