Volunteering is significant in the lives of young people

Youth volunteering can range from mentoring younger children to volunteering internationally to serve others.

According to Child Trends Data Bank, volunteering has many positive effects on today’s youth. Volunteering covers a broad range of activities for this age group, just as it does for adults. For youth, volunteering can range from mentoring younger children, serving food at a shelter, being a youth leader in a service organization, working in their local community or volunteering internationally to serve others.

Teen who volunteer are less likely to:

  • Become pregnant
  • Use drugs
  • Get into trouble with the law

Teens who volunteer or are involves in community service are more likely to:

  • Have good grades
  • Have a strong work ethic
  • Become civically engaged
  • Vote

Other life skills linked to adolescent volunteering are greater respect for others, stronger leadership skills and a better understanding of citizenship. These skills are the building blocks of becoming a positive and productive citizen that carry young people into adulthood.

Female students are more likely to volunteer at 37 percent versus their male counterparts at 30 percent; these percentages vary slightly on the grade and age of the teen volunteers. Students whose parents have finished college are also more likely to volunteer. This pattern is consistent across all grade levels. Also youth who plan to go to college tend to volunteer an average of one time more per month than their peers who do not plan to attend college.

A few of the many reasons youth volunteer:

  • Gain job experience
  • Feel it is their civic duty
  • Build character
  • Make their communities and world a better place
  • Have fun

Free the Children, an international youth volunteer organization founded by Craig and Marc Kielburger when Craig was 12 years old, has partnered with schools and families “to educate, engage and empower young people as agents of change.” Organizations like Michigan 4-H also work to empower youth through service, education and youth development; consider encouraging your teen to give back to his or her community for the betterment of that place and the individual.

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