Lessons learned from teen marketing research can benefit us all. We need to learn about each other regardless of age, but especially to communicate!
What do we know about teens who are at a critical stage of forming attitudes & behavior patterns that will guide them as adults? According to a study developed by the Josephson Institute of Ethics, many kids think it’s okay to hit someone when they’re angry, may be drunk in school when they do it, and find that if they desire a gun, they can easily get one.
Our teens are a measurement of where we must go with our public relations.
I feel old! When I was a teen, people would say they couldn’t relate to what we were about. They didn’t understand our music. They didn’t understand our dance. They didn’t understand our attitude!
Research suggests (source PR Reporter) a dangerous recipe for violence, which is not surprising given what has gone on in our schools recently. Conclusions:
Cheating: 71% admit they cheated on an exam at least once in the past year (45% 2 or more times)
Lying: 92% lied to their parents in the past year; 78% lied to a teacher. More than 1 in 4 would lie to get a job.
Stealing: 40% of males and 30% of females say they stole something from a store in the past year.
Drinking: Nearly 1 in 6 (16%) say they have been drunk in school during the past year (9% were drunk 2 or more times)
Violence: 68% say they hit someone because they were angry in the past year (46% did so at least twice), and nearly half (47%) say they could get a gun if they wanted to (for males, 60% say they could).
The institute has been testing biennially since 1992 and has observed a steady increase in deviant behavior until this year. “Behaviors have leveled off (between ’98 and ’00)” according to the study.
What does all this tell us and what can we do about it? Regular readers of this column will recall my standard advice “you have to start where they are,” meaning research like this tells where to start with young people.
Originally published in the Kennebec Business Monthly in February 2001 as part of a monthly guest series on public relations and marketing.