- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

The nation’s teens say they have a great stake in the outcome of this year’s presidential election, list social issues such as abortion and same-sex “marriage” as top concerns and generally support the war in Iraq, according to results of a survey released yesterday.

“Simply put, they are more involved … more concerned about what is happening,” said Peter D. Hart, president of Peter D. Hart Research Associates, which conducted the eighth annual survey on the nation’s teens in May for the Horatio Alger Association.

The poll of 1,007 randomly selected teens found that 44 percent said going to war in Iraq was the right decision, 33 percent said it was wrong, and 18 percent didn’t know.

Mr. Hart said that breakdown is essentially the same as among adults, but shows that for the upcoming generation, “the events of the world are now events in their world.”

Last year’s survey found that 58 percent of teens supported the war in Iraq. Mr. Hart said the drop in support this year could be attributed to the timing of the 2004 survey, which was taken after the Iraqi prisoner-abuse story broke.

Today’s teens also overwhelmingly reject the idea of a military draft, the report says. Seventy percent oppose required military service, although 55 percent think a draft will happen during their lifetimes.

Sixty-two percent said the November elections will make a “very large” or “fairly large” difference in the country’s future, and 70 percent care who wins the presidential contest. The teens’ specific opinions of President Bush and his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, will be explored in a survey released in the coming months.

Unlike the adult population, which tends to be more concerned with the economy and the war in Iraq, young people list social issues such as same-sex “marriage” and abortion as their top concerns, with education and the war in Iraq tying for second place.

When it comes to the war in Iraq, more of the male respondents said it was the right thing to do at 53 percent, compared with 29 percent of the female respondents who felt the same way. The young women were 25 percent more likely to say social issues or education are their top concerns, and the young men were 22 percent more likely to worry about the economy and the war in Iraq.

Ninety-two percent of high school students intend to continue their education, with 73 percent planning to attend a four-year college. As a result, 43 percent said pressure to get good grades is a major problem for them, up from 26 percent in the 2001 survey.

As part of the survey’s release, the Horatio Alger Association hosted a panel of teens. The panel said the Internet is a intricate part of their generation and makes life easier, allowing them to shop, get news and research papers with the click of a button. Sixty-five percent said they use the Internet daily.

“If I have a research paper due, the first thing you do is a Google search,” said Glen Saunders, a 15-year-old from Millsboro, Del.

Shattering the angry-teen stereotype, the survey found for the second consecutive year that three-quarters of today’s teens say they get along “very well” or “extremely well” with their parents.

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