Confident, Caring Teenagers Look Up To Mum, Says Survey

Robert Baden-Powell would have been proud. Almost 100 years to the day that he founded the Scouts, a survey to mark that centenary has found that most teenagers are confident, know right from wrong and above all else, love their mums.

In findings which challenge media images of an Asbo culture among teenagers, the research for the Scout Association portrays the majority of them as having strong moral codes, although many feel frustration at not being listened to. Unsurprisingly, most complain that “life just isn’t fair” and many said they were too often bored.

While “having fun” was the biggest priority for them, “treating others the way you would like them to treat you” ranked a close second and “spending time with the people you love” third.

The survey of 1,000 teenagers aged 13-18 from a representative spread of social class, age and gender asked about their influences, ideas and aspirations. The biggest single influence on their lives was their mum (94%), followed by their whole family (83%), their dads (76%), and their friends (74%). Girls rated their friends more – 80% citing them as a positive influence compared with 67% of boys.

When they were asked to say the person they most admired 19% said their mum, 9% their dad, 3% Kylie Minogue and 3% David Beckham. Tony Blair scored 1%, as did Charlotte Church and Pete from Big Brother. Asked to name a bad influence, 20% said Pete Doherty, 6% Tony Blair and 2% Paris Hilton. Four out of five agreed with the statement that they were “a person with strong values and beliefs” and 68% said they were bored too often.

Katie Carter, 15, an Explorer Scout from Essex, said: “This report shows that we are not all lazy layabouts who see Asbos as ‘badges of honour’ and have no respect for adults.”

But she added: “Young people still get bored and it is vital that we have the opportunity to participate in activities outside of school and home.

“For me Scouting is packed full of adventure, fun and friends, from local fundraising to worldwide travel. I have recently got back from travelling around 14 different countries in eight days – how many 15-year-olds get opportunities like that?”

The report also looked at the portrayal of young people in the media. One in three articles in the media about teenagers was about crime and 71% was negative, the researchers found. Of the 74 articles looked at, young people were called “thugs” 26 times and “yob” 21 times.

“Much of the social discourse around young people in Britain today focuses on the attitudes and behaviour of a ‘troubled’ minority,” the report says.