Youth Volunteering On The Rise - US Study
12 December 2005 at 12:12 pm
A new study in the US shows high levels of teenage volunteering – figures that have even impressed America’s First Lady, Laura Bush.
The federal study found that 55 percent of American teenagers volunteered last year – nearly double the rate of adults.
Mrs. Bush launched the study saying she was proud of this generation of teens.
She added that it is known that volunteering can be taught, that helping people is something you can learn to do and it is now known that so many young people in the United States have learned that.
The national study, conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service in collaboration with the U.S. Census Bureau and Independent Sector, found that 15.5 million teenagers volunteered during 2004, contributing more than 1.3 billion hours of service.
That translates into a rate of 55 percent compared to the adult volunteer rate of 29 percent as established by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
David Eisner, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service says this study suggests that the 9/11 generation may offer the antidote to declining levels of civic participation in our country.
He says that too often, young people are seen as the recipients of service. Instead, they should see themselves — and be seen– as leaders and assets, who can make powerful contributions to their communities.
According to the new survey, approximately 10.6 million youth – or 38 percent of the youth population — have engaged in community service as part of a school activity.
Of those, 65 percent have also participated in related activities typically associated with service-learning, such as planning the service project or writing about it in class.
The survey found that only 5 percent of youth attributed their volunteer activities to a mandatory school requirement.
The Youth Volunteering and Civic Engagement Survey was conducted between January and March of 2005. In telephone interviews, a cross-section of 3,178 American youth between the ages of 12 and 18 were asked about their volunteer activities and experiences with school-based service and service-learning projects.
In addition to information on youth volunteering, the survey gathered information on youth religious involvement, academic achievement, family relationships, and ties to community groups.
The survey found that the likelihood that young people will volunteer is directly related to their connections to the social institutions of family, religious congregations, and schools.
Among other key findings, the survey found:
– 74 percent of youth who volunteer do so at least in part through a religious organisation, a school-based group, or a youth leadership organisation such as Scouts or 4H, while 64 percent do so primarily through one of those three institutions.
– Students who volunteer do better in school than their counterparts who don’t volunteer.
– A youth from a family where at least one parent volunteers is almost twice as likely to volunteer as a youth with no family members who volunteer, and nearly three times as likely to volunteer on a regular basis.
– Among youth who attend religious services regularly, 64 percent also volunteer.
Robert Grimm, director of the Corporation’s Office of Research and Policy Development, notes that the social institutions of family, school, and religion are not only critical factors in whether youth will volunteer but also the extent of their commitment to volunteering.
He says the analysis suggests that these social institutions encourage volunteer activities among youth, and also influence the frequency and intensity of their service.
A copy of the study, titled “Youth Helping America – Building Active Citizens: The Role of Social Institutions in Teen Volunteering,” can be found at www.nationalservice.gov/about/role_impact/performance_research.asp.