A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

What Motivates Civic Involvement in Teens?

ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – From gun control to immigration, there are many issues that divide the country right now. But also, we have the ability to unite in the face of natural misfortunes or terrorist attacks. A new study explains that when social passion is encouraged in adolescents, they are more likely to participate in volunteer projects.

Young people who participate in volunteer work receive more than they give. They develop a good work ethic, respect for others and tend to vote in elections. There is also less incidence of pregnancy or drug use. With all these benefits, why are there no more young volunteers? Researchers interviewed 22 high school students, half of low-income schools, the other half of high-income schools. They determined that young people tended to get more involved when there was a personal reason for doing so, something that generated passion for a particular cause.

High school students involved in causes that would help them achieve their goals, for example, help them to enter a university. While students from low-income schools did so because the cause touched them in a personal way. 55 percent of adolescents participate in voluntary activities, almost double that of adults, whose participation is measured at 29 percent.

Contributors to this report include: Cyndy McGrath, Production Supervisor; Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor. Produced by the Child Trends News Service in association with Ivanhoe Broadcast News and sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

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