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Kids Say They Are Having Trouble Coping

A majority of youths nearing high school graduation have pinpointed educational or training skills they’ll need for their desired career (93%) but emotionally, 70% of youths rate their ability to cope with challenges as medium to low, according to new survey data.

Providing what authors call the largest set of data on how youths age nine to 18 feel about job readiness, conflict resolution, empathy, mental health and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), the Boys and Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) released results of its 2022 Youth Right Now survey of 105,837 members from 3,067 BGCA clubs across the nation.

The Coca Cola Company and Toyota, sponsors of BGCA job readiness programs, are credited with supporting the survey.

Key findings on questions posed about job readiness and intellectual curiosity in the survey conducted from February into April include:

  • 82% are curious to learn more about STEM; 
  • 57% have had work or internship experience, paid or unpaid) during the past 12 months. (Asked of 9th through 12th graders);
  • 62% immediately plan to attend a two or four-year college; 20% haven’t decided; others plan to enter the military or receive vocational training; and,
  • 88% said they could stand up for what they believe is right, even if friends disagree and 92% indicate they persevere and try to figure out better methods when something goes wrong.  

Most youths (94%) said they believe they can work with people different from themselves, and the same percentage of respondents said they try to help when others are in need. But respondents also expressed doubts and areas in need of improvement:

  • 70% rated their ability to cope with challenges as medium to low;
  • 71% said they can’t stop worrying when something goes wrong in their life and 67% said they try to keep others from finding out when something goes wrong;
  • Nearly half the respondents (46%) said they need to improve conflict resolution skills while one-third want to improve teamwork skills; and,
  • Some said bullying hasn’t gone away: 37% reported being bullied on school property and 18% reported electronic bullying.

BGCA President & CEO Jim Clark, via a message about the report on the organization website, said social isolation, missed opportunities and milestones during COVID-19 played a part in youth uncertainty while youths also expressed maturity, self-confidence and empathy in other areas.

“It’s more important than ever that young people have safe, nonjudgmental adults they feel comfortable approaching about tough topics,” according to Clark’s message.

Data shows that kids are struggling with their abilities in coping with challenges, which we know they’ve seen plenty of in the past years. And when they’re stressed about something, they often try to keep it secret. Having a caring adult in their lives who they trust and can go to when times get tough is more critical than ever,” Clark said via the statement.

Survey respondents expressed confidence they could stand up for what they believe is right, even if friends disagree (88%) and try to figure out better methods when something goes wrong (92%).

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