Today’s youth mean well, study finds

Put negative ideas of today’s youth aside. Yes, cyberbullying and peer pressure are in full force. But a new study says most youth today want to do the right thing. They are responsible, aware and optimistic.

The Girl Scouts Research Institute released a national study that suggests many American children and teenagers would make responsible decisions on a range of issues. The institute surveyed 3,263 third- to 12th-graders on what they value and how they make decisions.

The study, “Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today,” found:

  • Youth are less likely to engage in risky behavior. Nearly two out of three teens surveyed said they would not cheat on a test and 58 percent would refuse an alcoholic drink at a party. Only 6 percent said they would cyber-bully by forwarding an embarrassing picture of a classmate.
  • Civic involvement is valued, with 79 percent of them wanting to volunteer in their communities, and 84 percent say they’ll vote in every election.

“We have a generation that is clearly telling us they are different, that they intend to be good citizens of the world, and the message to parents is we have a great opportunity to make that happen,” says Maria Wynne, CEO of Girl Scouts of Greater Chicago and Northwest Indiana.

A similar study was conducted in 1989 and a comparison shows this generation positively shifted toward better intentions.

“Something that helps me make better choices is the Girl Scout way, and I also think, ‘What would my dad or mom think?'” says 11-year-old Keena Preston, a Girl Scout who says she doesn’t really feel peer pressure and lists chores as the hardest part about being a kid.

The survey reflects a generation ready to take on the world.

“Be aware of the different areas where kids want to do the right things and bridge the gap by maintaining focus with their goal,” says Wynne. “Help them to become who they are saying they want to be. Listen to them. Emphasize the role of actions taken. Helping the child understand how to make decisions and choices is important.”

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