In 1989, Girl Scout Research Institute (GSRI) conducted a study to gain insight into teens and tweens and their attitudes about subjects ranging from premarital sex to cheating to smoking. 20 years later, they conducted a nearly identical study and the findings indicate that teens are more responsible than they were a generation ago.
The findings of this most recent study, Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today, was based on online and school-based polling of 3,263 children in grades three through twelve. Conducted during the period of October 2, 2008 to January 23, 2009, the results reveal a generation of more ethical and conscientious kids who are more likely to do the right thing and stand up for what they believe in.
Examples of the findings include:
- Today, 62% of the kids polled said they would not cheat on a test compared to just about half who said that in 1989.
- 58% of today’s kids say they would refuse an alcoholic drink if offered one at a party. Only 46% said they would in 1989.
- While more than 25% of kids in 1989 said they believed smoking cigarettes was acceptable if a person finds it enjoyable, only 18% agreed with that statement today.
But the biggest change seems to be in attitudes toward gay and lesbian relationships. In 1989, only 31 percent agreed that “gay and lesbian relationships are OK, if that is a person’s choice.” Today, 59% say they agree with that statement.
According to Kimberlee Salmond, senior researcher at GSRI and lead author of the study, the results show that today’s kids place a higher value on “diversity, acceptance and civic involvement and almost across the board they’re more committed to these values than were their predecessors 20 years ago.”