Teens Turn to Parents for Support
WASHINGTON AND LAKE FOREST, ILL. — IN a world shaken by the Oklahoma City bombing and corrupted institutions, teenagers are increasingly turning to their parents for guidance and support.
"Parents apparently have emerged as a safe haven as other institutions have fallen in importance," said Paul Krouse, publisher and founder Who's Who Among American High School Students, one of two groups that released surveys on teens this week.
A separate study found the thing students need most from their families and teachers is time. "It's the one thing they need most, and it's the one thing adults are most hard-pressed to give," said J. Walker Smith, whose group, Yankelovich Partners, polled 140 top scholarship winners.
In the Who's Who poll, which surveyed 3,200 top high school students, the vast majority - about 8 in 10 - said they look to their parents for security and guidance. That figure has remained just about constant for 25 years.
But the poll does indicate a steep decline in faith in traditional institutions. For example, while 31 percent expressed confidence in the US president in 1971, only 11 percent do today.
Concern about violence is up too: 12 percent of Who's Who teens said the felt unsafe at school, compared with 7 percent in 1983.
Despite the concern, most of those polled by Yankelovich showed optimism about the future, saying they believe in the American Dream, feel they will be better off than their parents, and think the United States will remain a world power. But they worry about poverty and prejudice, and fear the rising cost of college may keep poor, talented students out.
Also, 60 percent of the Who's Who students feel there is too much violence on TV - a percentage that has stayed roughly the same since the early 1970s.
BUT student behavior has changed since the 1970s. Twenty-one percent said they had driven drunk, up from to 7 percent 13 years ago. There has been no increase in sexual activity, however. Only 1 in 4 teens said they are sexually active.
Also, marijuana use has fallen dramatically among the surveyed Who's Who students since the early 1970s. Cigarette smoking has also fallen.
Neither survey was a scientific sampling of high-achieving teenagers. Who's Who picked a representative sample of 8,000 students from among the 720,000 students it profiled. Of those 8,000 however, only about 3,200 students mailed back survey questionnaires.