Abstracts: March 21st, 2014

This report from Demos, supported by National Citizen Service, challenges harmful perceptions to show today’s teens are more engaged with social issues than their predecessors.

False stereotyping of young people in the media and wider society is having a negative effect on both their self-esteem and employment opportunities. Four-fifths of teens feel they are unfairly represented in the media. Most of them go on to argue that negative stereotypes are affecting their chances of getting a job.

The report shatters misconceptions of disengaged teenagers, revealing a huge majority of young people today (80%) believe their generation is more concerned with social issues than previous generations of teenagers, with two-thirds of teachers (66%) agreeing.

Over four times as many teachers also feel that today’s youngsters are more likely than previous generations to volunteer for good causes and community organisations (46% agree vs 11% disagree).

The findings support the Government’s latest Community Life Survey, which found that three-quarters (74%) of 16-24-year-olds had volunteered in the past year, a 9% point increase on two years previous.

Types of volunteering include taking time out to support staff at local primary schools or old people’s homes, helping teach pensioners how to use technology, or running campaigns in their community.

Tellingly, when secondary school teachers were asked to paint a picture of the young people they know, the most common attributes were ‘caring’, ‘enthusiastic’ and ‘hard-working’; but the words most commonly associated in the media were ‘binge-drinking’, ‘yobs’, and ‘crime’.

‘Introducing Generation Citizen’ is published by Demos and can be downloaded here.