This social “mechanism” operates in all age brackets, but it is especially apparent (to adults) during the teen years. There it usually is restricted to the sexes separately. During those joyful/painful formative years there is a strong desire to be accepted by one’s peer group.
What frequently happens, when there has been a lack of formation by the parents, one of the more outgoing members will set an exciting, rebellious standard of behavior which will be accepted by the other “followers”.
(I just received an encouraging letter from a friend who is painfully extricating themselves from such a detour.)
Our ever resourceful Blessed Mother has been using this tendency of “teens listen to teens rather than adults” to her (and their) benefit. Witness Fatima, Garabandal, Lourdes, Kibeho and Medjugorje.
Of course, this is a normal process of growth to help sever the psychological “umbilical cord” between a child and it’s parents, but if you see that it results in an unhealthy attachment, use a little “subversive strategy” and secretly enlist the help of someone to turn their attention to the attractive crowds of young people in Mary’s village.