The period of adolescence brings about important changes in interpersonal relations. A teenager is no longer hungry for emotional contact as they used to be during childhood – an important role is now assigned to social contacts.
The peer environment is important to young people; they create their own world of norms, symbols and behaviours described as the youth culture. M. Przetacznik-Gierowska i G Makiełło-Jarża  stress that in case of a conflict between the norms propagated by adults and those of the group, the peers’ norms prevail. J.J. Conger  points out that the youths adopt the main values from their parents, whilst imitating their peers in more insignificant matters. The peer group, according to the findings of D.P. Ausubel modified by D. Hamachek , performs numerous functions of:
- replacing the family – the group gives a sense of security, its member has a specified status;
- stabilizing the personality – it is particularly important during violent changes that accompany adolescence;
- inspiring a sense of own value – the very acceptance as a member of the group becomes a source of the sense of own value;
- determining the standards of behaviour – the norms accepted within the group are conducive to the acquisition of the ability to function in a wider society;
- providing security resulting from the number – the group allows argumentation, e.g. “if others can, why can’t I?”;
- developing social competence – this is an opportunity to “exercise” the social functioning;
- accepting examples and their following.
It may therefore be assumed that the social development of the youths is conditioned by their relations with others as well as emotional exchange experienced in the relations with their environment  – especially with their peers. The school is an important place of the realization of these tasks. It is there that the student acquires general knowledge and gains competence and abilities necessary for the realization of professional and social roles that are ahead of the young adolescents.
1.The socializing role of the school environment
When considering the school educational environment in the aspect of the construction of educational situations conducive to the development of the students, it is essential to discuss the issues of the correctness of the development, the fulfillment of needs and the health care. The formation of educational situations in the school environment ought to be based on the main regularities that accompany adolescence, i.e. with certain consideration for the youths’ increasing drive for autonomy and independence in thinking, acting, experiencing and making choices [5, 2000, pp. 3-9; 2010, pp. 198 – 203].
The school environment is a very important field for teenagers to enter into numerous interpersonal relations. The classroom is a place where a young person experiences numerous social contacts while entering into peer relations. If the need for peer contact is not satisfied due to lack of acceptance or rejection by schoolmates, the young adolescent will seek membership in other groups, not always with a constructive impact upon their personal and social development. It is therefore worth remembering that apart from the mainstream current apparent to all subjects of school interaction, there is another current, often more important and accessible exclusively to the students. Caring for the proper atmosphere, choosing premeditated forms of educational actions, identifying the students’ needs as well as help in overcoming problems and difficulties are fundamental for the formation of the school educational environment conducive to the development of the young generation [6, pp. 821-829; 7, 2012, pp. 521 – 527; 2012, pp. 360 – 366].
- Rylke argues that the process of upbringing should consecutively “change into the formation of conditions for self-education: setting own goals, creating ways to reach them, entering relationships and alliance as well as judging results and correcting actions” [8, p. 11].
Another important element crucial to whether education actually supports the development of a young adolescent is the consideration of their needs. The following must be distinguished:
- the need of security necessary for entering into satisfactory relationships in the school environment, interactions based on the sense of own value and integrity;
- the need of contact which includes understanding others and being understood, which is a condition for genuine interpersonal contacts;
- the need of acceptance leading to the elimination of the feeling of confusion and abandonment;
- the need of activity both in the cognitive and constructive aspects;
- the need of free choice which serves the development of own awareness and identity;
- the need of love which shows while experiencing moving moments that accompany various school interactions through the formation of educational situations characterized by empathy and acceptance;
- the moral needs – both in the field of being ethically treated by others and in the field of ethical treating other people;
- the religious needs – crystallized in believers, shown as searching or negation in non-believers.
The consequences of non-satisfaction of the needs important to the adolescents are detrimental to the physical, mental and moral spheres. H. Rylke  argues that traumas or traumatic situations (single unsatisfied needs, though very significant to the individual) as well as permanent deprivation (manifested by permanent non-satisfaction of the needs) may lead to developmental disorders because the individual’s actions begin to be focused primarily on defence.
The process of upbringing means both the stimulation of the development of the student and the support in managing their own development.
- The significance of peer relations during adolescence
The peer group plays an irreplaceable role in the process of socialization by satisfying those needs of the teenagers which cannot be satisfied by adults, namely the need of affinity with a team whose member do play different roles but still take equal positions; the need of social contacts or exchange of views and opinions without participation of adults. Adolescents are very sensitive to the recognition of the members of the group to which they wish to belong or to which they already belong, therefore they are able to subject themselves to their peers’ influence. They even adopt conformist attitudes in order to avoid the most severe punishment applied by the group – rejection and isolation. The system of social control applied within the peer environment manifests itself primarily in the fixed group norms which mainly affect:
- the assessment of the meaning of different behaviours from the point of view of the interests of the group,
- the expectations towards the desirable ways of behaving in the group members,
- the reactions of the group to the behaviours of its members which take the form of positive sanctions in case of desirable behaviours and negative sanctions in case of behaviours discordant with the interests of the group .
- Baley  stresses that such processes as common mood or common experiences are easily generated, so the youths are susceptible to educational influences which are supported or provoked by certain collective experiences. Adolescents can be reasonably easily enthused, carried away and persuaded to make specific decisions.
“A young person becomes able to voluntarily accept certain rules and regulations to which he or she is ready to conform on the condition that they will also bind others” [11, p. 197].
Whilst analyzing coexistence and cooperation with their peers, S. Gerstmann distinguished the following categories of emotional ties among the teenagers:
- companionship including emotional experiences in which a sense of solidarity with friends is accented, awareness of the duty to participate in group actions shows and a drive for defending friends is emphasized, particularly during confrontation with adults;
- friendship or a feeling that bind two people of the same or opposite sex. Friendship between a boy and a girl may be accompanied by an element of erotic feelings which causes this relationship to form into calf love. Friendship may also connect a few people who function in small, informal groups or “gangs” and establish a specific mental bond, but it must be noted that it is not always friendship.
- love which is very often connected with the feeling of yearning, dreams about spending free time and future life together with the beloved person. The emerging emotional experiences are very strong therefore they may affect behavioural disorders in young adolescents; also, the evolution of the feeling is important – at the beginning it is dominated by the friendship component, only later does the erotic component emerge .
The analysis of peer relations allows to distinguish certain factors that affect preferences and dislikes within the peer groups which, regardless of age, result from personality features of the participants of the interaction and are connected to the possibility of the satisfaction of their own needs in mutual relations. Likeable, nice, optimistic, friendly, loyal and honest young adolescents are desirable partners in peer interactions whilst the adolescents who are not likeable, unfriendly, lazy, introvert or selfish do not enjoy too much popularity in interpersonal relations. What is more, this popularity is also affected by a good opinion that a teenager enjoys among their teachers, although “anti-school” displays of the adolescents may be conducive to gaining an appropriate status among friends .
Adolescence is characterized by a very significant sense of own love as well as sensitivity to the position taken within the peer group. The possibility of being worse than others is unacceptable or very hard to accept for the youths. The peer group, therefore, satisfies and triggers in every teenager the need to expand their selves, regardless “of the risk of melting in it and self-renunciation” [14, p. 235].
The research conducted by L. Niebrzydowski among 11-18 year-olds confirmed the meaning of peer contacts for the young adolescents. Half the respondents indicated their peers as the people with whom they remain in the best interpersonal relations. A third named their parents but the higher the age of the group the lower the position of the parents – only one in five high school graduates mentions their parents as their confidants. The author interprets the tendency in adolescents to look for emotional support mainly in their peers as an aspiration for partner equality because this support is based on identical interests and attitudes. Depending on the age of the adolescents, their preferences as to the kind of friendly relations and the desirable features of a friend change. 11-12 year-olds enter into superficial contacts that arise from egoistic and utilitarian premises. 14-15 year-olds are keen to spend time or do homework together as well as to have wider contacts with the particular members of the peer group. 16-17 year-olds need “somebody who would be willing and able to understand them, somebody to tell secrets to, to disclose moral and world-outlook dilemmas and somebody to talk friendly to about their future plans” [14, p. 291]. Apparently, the meaning of peer relations and their character as well as the need to maintain more intense friendly relations depend largely on the age of the young adolescents.
The peer environment gives the young adolescents an opportunity to get rid of distrust towards people and enlightens them that there are other people living around them who have a friendly and cordial attitudes. Close, noble relations and friendly bonds with peers open a prospect of finding understanding and emotional support as well as breaking free from the influence of the family which is perceived as a limitation [15, pp. 303 – 304].
The peer group is an important point of reference for teenagers because, as M. Michel  points out, it is within the group that social abilities are formed which allow them to overcome difficulties constructively and creatively. A young person satisfies his or her sense of affinity and community, acceptance and the opportunity of self-fulfillment and improvement of interpersonal contacts. Besides, peers who think and feel alike give each other self-confidence, emotional recognition and show each other which way of conduct should be chosen to gain the group’s recognition.
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- Michel M. Młodzieżowa Grupa Profilaktyczna jako próba tworzenia alternatywnych działań młodzieży zagrożonej patologią, [in:] Kryzysy rozwojowe wieku dziecięco-młodzieżowego a możliwości społecznego wsparcia. B. Grochmal-Bach, A. Knobloch-Gala (ed.). Kraków2005.[schema type=»book» name=»THE ROLE OF SCHOOL ENVIRONMENT IN THE SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT OF YOUNG ADOLESCENTS» description=»This article attempted to discuss certain issues of the significance of one of the basic educational environments – the school environment – for the correct development of teenagers. Emphasis was put on two principal fields: the socializing aspect of educational work at school and mutual influences and dependencies affecting the subjects of educational interaction – the students. It was indicated that the recognition of the problems of the young generation and the identification of the developmental needs of the young adolescents as well as the assurance of conditions for constructive relations with their peers are all necessary conditions for the correct social adjustment of the students, and the guarantee of success is taking up conducive educational actions by the school.» author=»Beata Ciupińska» publisher=»БАСАРАНОВИЧ ЕКАТЕРИНА» pubdate=»2017-03-17″ edition=»ЕВРАЗИЙСКИЙ СОЮЗ УЧЕНЫХ_30.05.2015_05(14)» ebook=»yes» ]