Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today

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Girl Scout Research Institute (GRSI) and Harris Interactive

Youth today are far more committed to being responsible, valuing diversity, being accepting of others and keeping involved in the community than youth in the past, according to a new Girl Scout Research Institute study that compares new information with data from two decades ago.

Data from the new report, which was done in collaboration with Harris Interactive, show young people are not as influenced by who and what they see in the media as is commonly believed.

Among the major findings: Youth today want to make responsible choices, and to avoid risky behaviors such as not cheating on an exam and waiting until marriage to have sex, respectively. Young people were also found to be more accepting of diversity, in terms of ethnicity and sexual orientation. Also, compared with those of two decades ago, today’s youth have a stronger sense of civic engagement, including voting and giving to charity, and are more capable of dealing with peer pressure and voicing their personal opinions.

Good Intentions found that although youth usually follow their consciences, most turn to parents or parental figures as resources when dealing with a problem. Thus, the role of adults is critical in the decision-making process for youth. For adults to treat their dilemmas with respect, keep an open mind and value their voices is important to youth.

Data from national online and in-school surveys of youth in grades three to 12, online surveys of daughters in grades three to 12 and their mothers, and focus groups of girls were used to draw the conclusions regarding the good intentions of youth today. Free, 56 pages.