Thursday, February 23, 2006

Teens Believe Nation On "Wrong Track" Yet Hopeful For Future

According to a TRU Omnibuzz® survey of 1,183 teens aged 12 to 18, 53% say the country is on the wrong track, while only 18% say the nation is headed in the right direction.

Scores are worst for the environment. Only 17% of teens say they're satisfied with the country's progress on environmental issues, compared to 57% who believe the United States is headed in the wrong direction environmentally.

Sentiments on education—perennially one of teens' most important social issues—are similarly grim: 18% approve and 51% disapprove of the nation's track record. And, despite official word that the economy is growing at a decent pace, only 22% of teens say the economy is on the right track, while 47% disagree. Social issues are the bright spot in this survey—but even here only 28% believe things are improving, versus the 50% who believe the country is headed in the wrong direction.

With this level of discontent, it’s perhaps not surprising that political leaders fare poorly in the survey. Fewer than one in five teens (19%) say the United States' political leaders are on the right track, while 56% say they’re headed in the wrong direction.

TRU Trends Director Rob Callender says that last year’s natural disasters—and lackluster response efforts—contributed to teens’ overall feeling of unease about the world around them.

“For many teens, 2005 was a year plagued by disasters—both natural and manmade,” Callender explains. “Although the tsunami in Southeast Asia technically took place in 2004, teens generally listed that tragedy as the introduction to a year of earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados, floods, and fears of global pandemics. Political controversy and stories of high-level corruption haven’t done anything to reassure teens, either.”

Despite their gloomy outlook, Callender says teens haven’t yet given up hope.
“Optimism and faith in the future are integral parts of the teen mindset,” Callender says. “In a follow-up Omnibuzz survey, 60% of teens said they believe 2006 will be a better year than 2005. Only 11% think the coming year will be worse, although nearly one-third (29%) won't commit to an answer. When results were recalculated to remove ‘not sure’ as an option, an overwhelming 85% of respondents say things will get better, while only 15% say they'll get worse.”

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