A new study released by Girl Scouts of the USA finds, in part, that youth today are more accepting of those who are different from them. The results were compared to results from a nearly identical 1989 study.
“There’s clearly a generational change taking place,” said Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at GSRI and lead author of the study. “These young people strongly value diversity, acceptance and civic involvement, and almost across the board they’re more committed to these values than were their predecessors 20 years ago.”
The survey, Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, also finds that that one third of teenagers say they intend to wait until they are married to have sex compared to less than a quarter (24 percent) in 1989. And two decades later, youth are more accepting of gay relationships. Fifty-nine percent of teenagers agree with the statement, “Gay and lesbian relationships are OK, if that is a person’s choice.” Only 31 percent agreed in 1989.
In addition, the data show that youth today value diversity. Among 7th- to 12th-graders, nearly six in 10 (59 percent) say that being around people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds is important to them. This appears to be particularly important to girls (63 percent versus 55 percent of boys) and youth from diverse racial or ethnic backgrounds. (This question was not asked in 1989.)
And young people today appear to have a stronger sense of civic engagement. Compared to 20 years ago, youth today are more likely to say they intend to vote in the
future (84 percent vs. 77 percent), as well as give to charity (76 percent vs. 63 percent). Some 79 percent say they will volunteer in their communities.
In addition, 71 percent say their religious beliefs are important to them, and this group is not as likely as less religious or nonreligious young people to say they would lie, cheat, drink and have sex.
The study also uncovered differences among boys and girls. Among teenagers, girls are less likely than boys to say they would have sex (18 percent vs. 38 percent) or advise an abortion (6 percent vs. 12 percent), and are more likely to give to charity (80 percent vs. 72 percent) and volunteer in their community (81 percent vs. 77 percent.)
To see all of the results from the study, click here.