Remembering 9/11: The Youth Perspective

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – September 7, 2011 – For adults, September 11, 2001 was a terrifying day full of unknowns and horrifying images. But, how do those who were young children feel about that day? First, almost three-quarters of today’s teens (72%) remember finding out about the events of September 11th on the day it happened. The events of that day, as well as the resulting aftermath, have changed the way they see the world compared to teens before 9/11, particularly regarding their trust and confidence in government. There is a fear of terrorism as 42% of 13-18 year olds say they are worried that terrorism will strike near them. Yet the number of teens who believe that the war on terrorism is a war the U.S. will win has dropped since shortly after the attacks, from 82% in December 2001 to 64% today.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 1,227 8-18 year olds (465 8-12 year olds and 762 13-18 year olds) surveyed online between July 13 and 21, 2011 by Harris Interactive.

    The impact of the war on terrorism on the lives of today’s youth

    Despite the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, teens today are less likely than those immediately after the attacks to believe that those responsible for the attacks will be found and punished (55% vs. 79% in September 2001). However, ten years without subsequent attacks has not gone unnoticed. More teens today believe that the U.S. will be able to prevent things like this from happening again (51% vs. 36% in September 2001) and fewer say that we need more security at places like airports and public buildings (51% vs. 77% in December 2001).

    The impact of the war on terrorism continues to be felt in other areas of teens’ lives as well. One-quarter of teens today (27%) say they are less likely to travel by airplane as a result of the war on terrorism, a view shared by a similar number of teens three months after the attacks (26% in December 2001). Hints of a generational shift in perspective is evident in the finding that more teens today say they are more likely to work hard at school as a result of the war on terrorism (26% vs. 16% in December 2001) and may even be more likely to listen to parental advice (22% vs. 16% in December 2001). However, the war on terrorism has lost its influence to spur charitable donations. While 42% of teens in December 2001 said that they are more likely to donate to a charity as a result of the war on terrorism, that level has dropped to 18% of teens today.

    Youth’s trust and confidence in government

    The events of 9/11 and its aftermath have also influenced how this new generation of teens views government. Today, fewer teens trust the government in Washington to do what is right in the war on terrorism (53% vs. 72% in December 2001 and 62% in July 2002) and fewer teens believe that the war on terrorism is a war the U.S. will win (64% vs. 82% in December 2001 and 72% in July 2002).

    Belief that elected officials are making positive changes in their community did see a brief improvement immediately after the attacks, but has since dropped to pre-9/11 levels. In July 2001, one-quarter of teens (26%) agreed that elected officials were making positive changes in their community. In late September 2001, 38% of teens held this belief, but by July 2002 the levels had dropped to 27%, similar to the 25% who hold this belief today.

    However, teens today are more likely than pre-9/11 teens to believe in the importance of engagement with the political process. In July 2001, half of teens (51%) agreed that it is important for people their age to get involved in the political process. This level rose to seven in ten teens in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 (71% in September 2001 and 67% in December 2001). Today that level has decreased a bit from those peaks, but is still higher than before the attacks, with 59% of teens agreeing that it is important for people their age to get involved.

    The war on terrorism has shown its toll on this generation as well. One-third of teens today (34%) say that the war on terrorism has made them less optimistic about their future – twice as many as said this in December 2001 (16%). And, more teens today say that the war on terrorism has made them less likely to enlist in the armed forces when they are old enough (48% vs. 35% in December 2001).

    So what?

    As today’s teens near voting age, elected officials should take note of both this generation’s decreased confidence in government and their increased belief in the importance of being involved in the political process. This generation seems poised to have a distinctive world view, framed by lowered optimism for themselves and the country. Recent events in Washington, D.C. probably have not helped increase any confidence in government, but as today’s teens grow into tomorrow’s voters, now is the time for politicians to reach out to this age group.

     

    TABLE 1

    DO ELECTED OFFICIALS CARE ABOUT YOUTH ISSUES

    How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? – Elected officials (like a mayor or Congressperson care about issues that affect me and other people my age.

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    2011

    Age group

    Trend for Teens

    Tweens (8-12)

    Teens (13-18)

    7/01

    9/01

    12/01

    7/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    AGREE (NET)

    28

    31

    26

    27

    29

    23

    24

    Strongly agree

    8

    11

    6

    6

    7

    4

    4

    Somewhat agree

    20

    20

    20

    21

    22

    20

    20

    Neither agree nor disagree

    33

    35

    31

    29

    31

    32

    26

    DISAGREE (NET)

    39

    34

    43

    44

    40

    45

    50

    Somewhat disagree

    22

    20

    25

    25

    24

    25

    30

    Strongly disagree

    16

    15

    18

    18

    16

    19

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding


     

     

    TABLE 2

    ARE ELECTED OFFICIALS MAKING POSITIVE CHANGES

    How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? – Elected officials (like a mayor or Congressperson) are making positive changes in my community.

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    2011

    Age group

    Trend for Teens

    Tweens (8-12)

    Teens (13-18)

    7/01

    9/01

    12/01

    7/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    AGREE (NET)

    25

    25

    25

    26

    38

    30

    27

    Strongly agree

    6

    6

    6

    5

    7

    5

    4

    Somewhat agree

    19

    19

    19

    22

    31

    25

    23

    Neither agree nor disagree

    44

    48

    41

    42

    39

    46

    47

    DISAGREE (NET)

    30

    27

    34

    31

    23

    24

    25

    Somewhat disagree

    18

    16

    20

    19

    15

    16

    14

    Strongly disagree

    12

    11

    14

    12

    9

    9

    12

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

     

    TABLE 3

    YOUTH GETTING INVOLVED IN THE POLITICAL PROCESS

    How much do you agree or disagree with the following statements? – It is important for people my age to get involved in the political process.

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    Age group

    Trend for Teens

    Tweens (8-12)

    Teens (13-18)

    7/01

    9/01

    12/01

    7/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    AGREE (NET)

    49

    38

    59

    51

    71

    67

    65

    Strongly agree

    18

    11

    24

    21

    42

    36

    31

    Somewhat agree

    31

    27

    34

    29

    29

    32

    34

    Neither agree nor disagree

    35

    40

    30

    31

    20

    20

    26

    DISAGREE (NET)

    16

    22

    11

    19

    9

    13

    10

    Somewhat disagree

    9

    11

    7

    12

    7

    9

    7

    Strongly disagree

    7

    10

    5

    7

    3

    4

    3

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    TEEN WORRIES

    Are you worried that…?

    Base: All teens, 13-18

     

    9/01

    12/01

    7/02

    2011

    %

    %

    %

    %

    The country might go to war

    69

    43

    46

    44

    Terrorism will strike near you

    50

    39

    46

    42

    The spread of nuclear arms will cause a war

    41

    36

    39

    40

    The country is letting in too many immigrants

    31

    28

    27

    37

    None of these

    14

    30

    23

    24

    Note: Multiple responses accepted

     

     

    TABLE 5

    TEEN ATTITUDES ON TERRORISM, WAR AND SECURITY

    Which of these statements do you agree with?

    Base: All teens, 13-18

     

    2011

    Trend saying Yes

    Yes

    No

    12/01

    7/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    The war on terrorism is a war the U.S. will win

    64

    36

    82

    72

    I approve of the actions the U.S. military has taken so far

    57

    43

    81

    75

    I trust the government in Washington to do what is right in the war on terrorism

    53

    47

    72

    62

    We need more security at places like airports and public buildings

    51

    49

    77

    68

    We should stop military action at this point

    36

    64

    12

    18

    The war on terrorism has made me less optimistic (confident, hopeful) about my future

    34

    66

    16

    12

    I think there will be terrorist attacks in the U.S. within the next month

    14

    86

    30

    24

    I have made a major change in my life in order to decrease the chances of being a victim of terrorism

    12

    88

    5

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6

    TEEN BEHAVIORS AS A RESULT OF WAR ON TERRORISM

    As a result of the war on terrorism, are you less likely, about as likely, or more likely to do the following?

    Base: All teens, 13-18

     

    2011

    Trend for less likely

    Less

    Likely

    About

    as Likely

    More Likely

    12/01

    12/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Enlist in the armed forces when you are old enough

    48

    45

    8

    35

    38

    Travel by airplane

    27

    67

    6

    26

    23

    Go to the mall to hang out with friends

    7

    81

    12

    3

    3

    Open your mail

    3

    83

    14

    6

    5

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

     


     

     

    TABLE 6A

    TEEN BEHAVIORS AS A RESULT OF WAR ON TERRORISM

    As a result of the war on terrorism, are you less likely, about as likely, or more likely to do the following?

    Base: All teens, 13-18

     

    2011

    Trend for more likely

    Less

    Likely

    About

    as Likely

    More Likely

    12/01

    12/02

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Change your plans for the future

    18

    73

    8

    7

    9

    Attend religious services

    11

    72

    16

    18

    21

    Donate to a charity

    10

    72

    18

    42

    30

    Spend more time with your parents

    5

    74

    20

    19

    16

    Listen to advice your parents give you

    4

    74

    22

    16

    16

    Work hard at school

    3

    71

    26

    16

    21

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

     

     

     

    TABLE 7

    HOW 9/11 IMPACTED TODAY’S YOUTH

    Which of these statements do you agree with?

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    Age groups saying yes

    Yes

    No

    Tweens

    (8-12)

    Teens

    (13-18)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    I have been taught about this event at school

    75

    25

    67

    82

    I remember finding out about this event on the day it happened

    72

    28

    n/a

    n/a

    Those responsible for the attacks have been found and punished

    56

    44

    58

    55

    This event has made a difference in my life

    55

    45

    51

    59

    The United States will be able to prevent something like this from happening again

    55

    45

    59

    51

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding = only asked of Teens

     

     

    TABLE 7A

    HOW 9/11 IMPACTED TODAY’S YOUTH – TRENDS

    Which of these statements do you agree with?

    Percentage of teens saying yes

    Base: All teens, 13-18

     

    2011

    9/01

    %

    %

    Those responsible for the attacks have been found and punished

    55

    79

    The United States will be able to prevent something like this from happening again

    51

    36

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     


     

     

    TABLE 8

    WORRIED ABOUT FUTURE TERRORISM IN THE U.S.

    How worried are you that another event like this could again take place in the United States?

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    2011

    Total

    9/01

    Age groups

    Tweens (8-12)

    Teens (13-18)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Extremely/very worried (NET)

    20

    36

    22

    19

    Extremely worried

    7

    12

    8

    6

    Very worried

    13

    24

    14

    13

    Somewhat worried

    52

    45

    53

    51

    Not worried (NET)

    27

    19

    25

    30

    Not very worried

    22

    13

    19

    24

    Not at all worried

    6

    5

    6

    6

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

     

    TABLE 9

    WORRIED ABOUT FUTURE TERRORISM IN THEIR COMMUNITY

    How worried are you that another event like this could take place near where you live?

    Base: All youth, 8-18

     

    Total

    2011

    Total

    9/01

    Age groups

    Tweens (8-12)

    Teens (13-18)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Extremely/very worried (NET)

    13

    24

    15

    11

    Extremely worried

    6

    10

    8

    5

    Very worried

    7

    15

    7

    7

    Somewhat worried

    32

    37

    32

    32

    Not worried (NET)

    55

    39

    53

    57

    Not very worried

    36

    23

    36

    37

    Not at all worried

    19

    16

    17

    20

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

     

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between July 13-21 among 1,227 8-18 year olds (465 8-12 year olds; 762 13-18 year olds). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, parental education, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

     

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

     

     

    The Harris Poll ® #96, September 7, 2011

    By Dana Markow, VP, Youth and Education Research, Harris Interactive

    About Harris Interactive

    Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology, and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant, and consumer package goods. Serving clients in over 215 countries and territories through our North American and European offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us – and our clients – stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.