Over 80% of Teenagers Lack Meaningful Relationships with Adults Beyond Family

The Search Institute and the US company Best Buy have released the Teen Voice 2010 report.  The Report focuses on the relationships that matter to American teenagers and reveals that 81% lack meaningful relationships with adults beyond their family.  The following piece is from Marketwatch.com.




Only one in five 15-year-olds in the United States have the kind of meaningful relationships with adults beyond their family that help them succeed in life, according to a study released today by Best Buy and Search Institute. This gap interferes with their development, and suggests concrete, powerful ways that adults in schools, neighborhoods, youth organizations, and other settings can have a positive difference in young people’s lives.

Teen Voice 2010: Relationships That Matter to America’s Teens, the national survey of 1,860 15-year-olds conducted by Search Institute and sponsored by Best Buy, reinforces findings in the inaugural Teen Voice 2009 survey that supported a growing body of research that documents a significant gap between the support teens need and the support they receive. This year’s survey also includes in-depth interviews with 30 15-year-olds in three cities across the United States.

Teen Voice 2010 explores three interlocking concepts:

  1. SPARKS – teens’ deepest passions and interests
  2. VOICE – teens’ confidence, skills and opportunities to influence things that matter to them
  3. RELATIONSHIPS – teens’ access to high-quality resources and relationships that help them nurture their strengths

Teens who scored highly in each of the three areas do better on every academic, psychological, social-emotional and behavioral outcome studied, suggesting that they are also on the path to success in school, work and life. This year, only 7 percent of 15-year-olds scored high in all three areas.

“As parents…as mentors…as caring adults, we need to help teens get the support they need to thrive in a complex and changing world,” said Brian Dunn, Best Buy’s CEO. “Teens play a unique and important role in shaping the world in which we live, and it’s critical that we create or find opportunities to make their voices heard and improve their chances for success.”

The Teen Voice 2010 survey found:

  • Thirty-eight percent of 15-year-olds did not score high on any of the three strength areas;
  • Overall, just 22 percent scored high on the voice index, indicating that few teens feel as though they have the confidence, skills and opportunities to voice their opinion and influence the things that matter to most to them;
  • Eighty percent of 15-year-olds have at least one “spark,” a passionate interest that gives them meaning, focus, energy and joy; and
  • Just 51 percent scored highly on the spark index, indicating a gap in the proportion of teens who are fully engaging with the issues they care about most.

“By connecting directly with teens, we were able to gain valuable insights that help us better understand teens’ perceptions of their individual strengths and identify opportunities to bridge achievement gaps and increase success rates,” said Dr. Peter Benson, President and CEO, Search Institute. “We are thrilled to partner with Best Buy and demonstrate that teens are paying attention and that we must do more to support them.”

The report includes recommendations and advice directly from young people about how adults can tackle the deep and sustained issues that undermine teens’ success. Adults play an important role in forming relationships with teens, listening to them and serving as positive role models — and teens who have these relationships have a significant leg up when it comes to staying, or getting, on a path to success.

The full report can be downloaded here and the summary report here.

This video outlines some of the key findings of the report and outlines some steps adults can take to develop more meaningful relationships with teens.

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