For the first time, young New Zealanders were asked about important adults in their lives, as well as about their relationships with parents and peers. This research showed about half of young people had a trusting relationship with an adult that wasn’t their parent, such as a grandparent, which researchers say illustrates the importance of wider whānau for young people.

These findings are based on information from nearly 4,200 twelve-year olds in the Growing Up in New Zealand longitudinal study. The research looked at three central relationships – with parents, peers and other important or special adults. These relationships are known to individually influence adolescent wellbeing.

According to Dr Rebecca Evans, lead researcher, it was encouraging to find the majority of young people had two or three strong relationships.

“Most young people had high levels of trust and communication with their parents, and most had positive, trusting relationships with their peers. We also found about half of the young people had another important adult in their lives who encouraged and cared about them.”

Grandparents were found to be the largest group of important adults followed by aunts or uncles, and teachers were a significant group as well. Around a third of young people mentioned that a teacher was an important, supportive adult for them.

Read the full media release here.

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