« purple nation | Main | glasses that are partly full »

October 3, 2006

new CIRCLE survey of youth

I'm at the National Press Club, about to release the result of a major new survey of American young people. [It has been covered, so far, by Reuters, Fox News, the Scripps Howard wire, the Philadelphia Inquirer and other McClatchy Newspapers, the Kansas City Star, on p. 1, and the Washington Times. Coincidentally, John Bridgeland and I also have an op-ed in today's Washington Times.] The report is available on the CIRCLE website. From the press release:

The Future of American Democracy: A Mixed Picture More Young People Are Involved,

But Nearly 1 in 5 Are Civically and Politically Disengaged

African-American and Asian-American Youth Most Engaged

Washington, DC – Conventional wisdom is challenged by a new report on the political and civic involvement of young Americans. Young people are working in many ways to improve their communities and the nation by volunteering, voting, protesting, and raising money for charity and political candidates. In addition, African-American and Asian-American youth are the most engaged, according to the study conducted by the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE). But, the findings also show that a large group of young people are completely disconnected from civic life.

In the last year, more than 36 percent of young people aged 15-25 volunteered, nearly 20 percent have been involved with solving community problems, and almost a quarter had raised money for charity. Many of the civic and political indicators showed only small differences between this age group and those aged 26 and older.

Despite this higher-than-expected level of engagement, the study does show that nearly two-thirds of young Americans are considered disengaged, with nearly one in five not involved in any of the 19 possible forms of civic participation. “Participating is good for kids’ development. Our schools and communities need their contributions. And their civic development is crucial for the future of our democracy,” said CIRCLE director Peter Levine.

“Knowledge matters. Among the young people who are disengaged – for instance, those who have not volunteered, contributed to solving community problems or raised money for a charity – more than 25 percent could not answer any basic civic knowledge questions,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, Research Director at CIRCLE. “But when young people get involved, their knowledge of the world around them increases. This is pattern is particularly clear among those who identify as regular voters. Only six percent of young regular voters could not answer any of the factual questions.”

African American youth are the most politically engaged racial/ethnic group. Compared to other groups, African Americans are the most likely to vote regularly, belong to groups involved with politics, donate money to candidates and parties, display buttons or signs, canvass, and contact the media. Asian American youth - surveyed here for the first time across a wide range of civic indicators – are by far the most civically engaged. They are most likely to work on community problems, volunteer regularly, boycott, and sign petitions.

The 2006 National Civic and Political Health Survey is the most up-to-date and detailed look at how young Americans are participating in politics and communities. The results can be found at www.civicyouth.org.

Other major findings include:

  • Increase in Anti-Immigrant Sentiment and Drop in Acceptance of Homosexuals. Young people are more favorable toward gays and immigrants than older people are, but since 2002, there has been a 5 point increase in those who say immigrants are a burden to our country and a 7 decline in those who say that homosexuality should be accepted. On the other hand, 67 percent of youth say they have confronted someone who said something that they considered offensive, such as a racist or other prejudiced comment
  • Immigration Protests Drew Mass Youth Support: 23% of immigrant youth and 18% of young children of immigrants reported that they had protested in the past 12 months. In contrast, young people who were born in the U.S. to parents born in the U.S. reported a protest rate of 10%.
  • Majority Tuned In to Politics and News - Young people appear to be paying attention to politics and following the news - 72 percent say they follow what's going on in government and public affairs at least some of the time. There is a strong relationship between following the news and being civically engaged.
  • October 3, 2006 9:01 AM | category: none


    Site Meter