Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

The Case for Diversity: A Statistical Profile of Teens

Should there be more POC (people of color) in YA lit?  Should teens in YA lit drink?  What about have sex?  The truth is, YA lit (or teen lit) should reflect the audience it is marketed to.  And in many ways, it doesn’t.  There are millions of teens, and just like the rest of the world, they are a diverse population in skin tones, beliefs, activities, interests and more.

Since I work with teens, I like to occasionally take a look at what the various data can tell me about the teen patrons I serve.  Here’s a little look at the state of teenagers today. 

“According to the 2000 U.S. Census, there were 40,747,962 youth age 10-19 in the United States, 14.5% of the total U.S. population. Estimates for 2009 by the Census Bureau put these figures at  41,511,401, or 13.5% of the total population.” (Census Bureau: Annual estimates by sex and five-year age groups). It is estimated that soon, white, non-hispanic teens will make up less than 50% of the population – but they seem to make up 90% of the literature (not an actual fact, just a guesstimate).

Screen Grab 10/22/13 from FACTs RE: Teen Demographics


Family

20% of children are raised as only children. (from Parents magazine)

Less than 10% of homes report having 3 or more children in the home in the last census. (from the U. S. Census)

50% of kids (and teens) report being bullied by siblings. (from the International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health)

One-in-Ten Children Are Living with a Grandparent (from Stephen’s Lighthouse

Approximately 60% of children in grades 1 through 12 are being raised by a single parent, often working 2 or more jobs and receiving supplmental aid through food stamps or other forms of assistance. (from Literacy Statistics)

Drug and Alcohol Use
 

Alcohol use remains extremely widespread among today’s teenagers. Nearly three quarters of students (72%) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school, and more than a third (37%) have done so by eighth grade. 
(from SADD and Drug Abuse.gov )

“In 2012, 6.5 percent of 8th graders, 17.0 percent of 10th graders, and 22.9 percent of 12th graders used marijuana in the past month” (from DrugFacts: High School and Youth Trends

Education

In 120 minutes there will be 160 new dropouts. (from Teen Stats

Dyslexia affects 1 out of every 5 children. (from Reading, Literacy and Education Statistics)

Most books being read by teens today have a 5th grade reading level. (from Huffington Post)

1 in 4 children grow up without learning how to read. (from Do Something)

GLBTQ Teens

5 to 6% of U.S. youth identify as GLBTQ (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)

The average age for “coming out” is 16.  (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)

40% of Homeless youth are GLBTQ (from Think Progress)

84% of GLBTQ teens report some sort of harrassment. (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet

LGBT teens are 4 times as likely to attempt suicide. (from LGBT Youth Fact Sheet)

Poverty

1 in 5 children and teens face hunger issues every day (from No Kid Hungry)

Sexual Activity

By age 15, only 13% of teens have ever had sex. However, by the time they reach age 19, seven in 10 teens have engaged in sexual intercourse. (from Relationship Matters)

1 in 3 girls in the U.S. are estimated to get pregnant before they are twenty. (from Relationship Matters)

From Macleans

Spiritual Lives

84% of teens identify themselves as religious. (from The National Study of Youth and Religion

Interestingly enough, I found statistics on the spiritual lives of teenagers the hardest to find.  A lot of it was from a Christian perspective. 

Check out my growing Pinterest board of Teen Stats in Infographics for more information

Violence

About one in 11 teens reports being a victim of physical dating abuse each year. (from Relationship Matters)

The 3rd leading cause of death in the teenage years is suicide. 1in 11 high school students admit to having suicidal thoughts or attempts. (from Teen Help)

30% of teens grades 6-10 are involved in bullying, either on the receiving end or as the perpetrator (from Teen Help and Bullying Statistics)

Over half of teens report being bullied online (from Bullying Statistics)

For me, these statistics are a call to action that we must do more.  That we must do more to help provide our youth with more education, better health, more stability in their home lives, and more meaningful adult relationships.  Not just as librarians – no, librarians can’t do it alone – but as a society.

More Teen Stats
Statistics on High School Students (covers a wide variety of topics)
Internet Use
Various Teen Stats

Soundvision: Statistics on Teens
An Infographic (yay for Infographics)
Teen Consumer Stats
PEW Trend Data (Teens)
ALA Sobering Statistics (Teens)
Tech trends, library stats and how Teens do research
Library Services in the Digital Age (PEW)

Teen Faith Practices (Christian teens)
Teen Demographics (this is an excellent resource)