- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

Family breakdown tops the list of concerns for young people when discussing their futures, while getting married and having children are overwhelmingly popular life goals, according to a survey.

The findings were released this week by New America Media, in cooperation with the University of California Office of the President and Bendixen & Associates research company.

Young people have a “fear of winding up alone,” said Sandy Close, executive director of New America Media, an association for 700 ethnic news organizations that was founded in 1996 by the Pacific News Service.

Members of the new generation, who spend much of their time on cell phones and text messaging, and “who we think of really as the connected generation is, in a way, most afraid of winding up without intimate connections,” she said. There is a “deep yearning for traditional structures and values.”

Another hallmark of this generation is its embrace of a cross-cultural “global society,” said Ms. Close. Fifty-three percent of white youths and Asian youths say most of their friends are of a different race/ethnicity, while a smaller 41 percent of blacks and Hispanics say the same.

Sixty-five percent of those ages 16 to 22 said they had dated someone of a different race, and 87 percent said they would be willing to marry someone of a different race. “So this is a generation that has worked through, in their own experience, problems their parents are still wrestling with,” Ms. Close said.

The survey asked the 601 youths, 80 percent of whom were born in California, 7 percent elsewhere in the United States and 12 percent outside the United States, to identify “the most pressing issue facing your generation in the world today.”

Twenty-four percent chose “family breakdown” as their biggest concern, followed by violence in local communities (22 percent), poverty (17 percent) and global warming (14 percent).

War and government issues ranked low on the list; drugs, “environmental issues in general,” “economic issues” and “racism/discrimination” barely registered.

Nearly 90 percent of the youths, who were all interviewed by cell phone, said it was very likely or somewhat likely that they would “be married or have a life partner at some time” in their lives. The same overwhelming majority also thought it was very or somewhat likely that they would have children.

The survey also showed a surprising interest in religion and spirituality: Seventy-three percent said those things were very or somewhat important, and a second question about religious expression found that only 3 percent of youths had no religious expression in their lives.

The faithfulness of youths contrasts with other poll data that rank California as having the “highest percentage of ‘agnostic’ adults in the United States,” New America Media said.

The poll’s margin of error is four percentage points.

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