Adolescence. No other phase of life is characterised by such radical changes and difficult developmental tasks: one becomes aware of bodily change, discovers sexuality, grows increasingly detached from one's parents, defends one's autonomy of judgement, but also seeks refuge in group identity with other adolescents. Rude and fragile, idealist and cynical, hostile and needy of affection, adolescents represent a challenge for the adult world, but most of all for themselves as they seek to build up their own egos and their social roles. Although the news often reports dramatic events involving adolescents and which appear incomprehensible, this doesn't mean that adults should discontinue their attempts to understand them, nor does it mean that adolescents don't wish to communicate with adults. Any generalisation, as this volume shows, can only lead to prejudice. In order to avoid adolescent outbreaks, adults must learn to effectively combine consistency in their behaviour and guidance with the warmth of regard and respect.
Augusto Palmonari teaches Social Psychology at the University of Bologna.