Many teens don't live up to their bad reputations

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mood swings, slammed doors, sneaking out at night and an all-around bad attitude toward life in general -- just a typical teenager, right? Wrong, say some teens and national data.

According to a survey by Students Against Destructive Decisions, most teens feel pretty good about themselves, have an open relationship with their parents and a lot of them are generous with their free time, often volunteering for different organizations.

"I volunteer as often as I can where I'm needed," said Lauren Kalb, 17. "Mostly because I love helping people and think it's the right thing to do. I want to work at the safe house when I turn 18."

Youth Service America, a national organization that works to foster and expand volunteer opportunities for young people, said 82.6 percent of incoming freshman report frequent or occasional volunteer work, according to a 2001 study by UCLA.

Kalb called the old teenage stereotype "unjust."

"I think we are thought of as immature and disruptive to society," Kalb said.

She's not alone. Everyone knows that teens are out to cause trouble. Everyone, that is, except for the teens.

"From my experience, most of the teens I hang out with are nice kids," 18-year-old Diana Harper said. "Some may drink sometimes, but they're not out vandalizing everything and stomping around being all angry and angsty."

The survey from SADD revealed most teens are happy on a daily basis and 77 percent identify themselves as friendly. The organization also reported six in 10 teens said they can handle change well and are liked by others.

"I am the 'go-to' girl when someone needs to talk or has a problem," said Alyxandra Waterman, 17. "I help people a lot."

She admitted, though, that she doesn't always feel like people take her seriously. She said some teens may not have the greatest work ethic, but will get over it in order to buy themselves the things they want.

Harper said the same thing about the lack of a want to work. "But what do you expect of kids that are used to spending their summers at camp or the pool?" she said.

"Sometimes, I don't think that adults realize that teens are really, really close to being grown-up yet still have a huge part of them that is just a kid wanting to have fun and eat candy."

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