and Coordination Among
Personal Expression, Social
Norms, and Moral Reasoning
Stacey S. Horn
University of Illinois at Chicago
Peer group exclusion, teasing, and harassment are a part of most adolescents' lives. As adults we are often left asking why it is that adolescents frequently treat each other with such cruelty and meanness. Some argue that it is because of a moral decline in our society and that adolescents are out of control. Is this the case, however? Are adolescents today simply lacking morality? Or, rather, is it that adolescents' social worlds are complex and as such they are faced with coordinating conflicting needs or values in negotiating their peer relationships? For example, do adolescents sometimes view exclusion as a legitimate form of social regulation? In this chapter I discuss the unique complexity of adolescents' peer groups and some of the ways in which this complexity may be related to the types of decisions adolescents make about how to treat one another.
Peers and peer relationships (or lack of them) are a critical part of adolescents' social worlds. During the transition into adolescence, the peer social