Youth volunteering on the rise

Almost three in four American teens have volunteered at some point, and community-service requirements may be a driver behind the increase, a new study says.

About 73 percent of children ages 12 to 17, or about 18.8 million youth, have volunteered, says the study conducted by Harris Interactive and commissioned by The Volunteer Family.

That’s a significant increase over 1996, when a study by Independent Sector showed fewer than six in 10 children in the same age range had volunteered within the previous year.

“Today’s youth are choosing the causes they identify with and supporting them,” Heather Jack, president of The Volunteer Family, says in a statement. “They are joining causes on Facebook. They are planning their own fundraising events. They are encouraging their friends and families to help out. They are embracing the traditional ideal of giving back, but they are finding new and unique ways of doing so.”

About one in three have volunteered to help children, more than a quarter advocate for environmental causes, more than two in 10 assist the elderly or disabled, and just under two in 10 work with animals.

About eight in 10 girls have volunteered, and more than the two-thirds of boys have given their time.

More than four in 10 youth volunteer through their schools, indicating that community-service requirements may be driving some volunteer efforts.

About three in 10 youth volunteer with their families, while slightly fewer volunteer through a faith-based group.

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