March 2010 Issue No. 9

Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of
Teens and Tweens Today

Youth are bombarded with media images of less than exemplary role models in many aspects of life. In light of what they see how will youth respond to their own dilemmas in life? Are youth today any different in their decision-making and moral judgment than the young people of 20 years ago?

Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today (2009) is our latest research report and it explores the answers to the above questions and more. Good Intentions builds on the GSRI's portfolio of work on girl leadership development, which includes Exploring Girls Leadership (2007), Change It Up! (2008), The New Leadership Landscape (2009), Transforming Leadership, (2008), and Transforming Leadership Continued (2009).

As we look ahead, how can we work with girls and youth to help them turn their "good intentions" into action? Read on to learn more and then please let us know what you think! (Write to us at )

Michael Conn, Ph.D.
Vice President, Research
Girl Scout Research Institute
Girl Scouts of the USA


Conducted with 3,263 3rd- to 12th-graders from around the country, Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today (2009) paints an encouraging picture about today's generation of girls and youth.

Good Intentions builds on a study published in 1989 by Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts Survey on the Beliefs and Moral Values of America's Children, and compares decision making and values between the two generations of youth.

—Source, Girl Scout Research Institute, Good Intentions: The Beliefs and Values of Teens and Tweens Today (2009)

Based on the findings of the study, youth today say they are responsible to themselves and to others. Furthermore, they value diversity, acceptance, and community involvement. See chart below for decisions youth say they would make, today and in 1989, that reflect their values.

Youth today are in many ways more committed to these values than were their predecessors 20 years ago. In understanding the commitment that youth today have to their values, parents and adults can help youth bridge their good intentions, decision making, and actions around making responsible choices, and help youth cope with pressures to fulfill their good intentions.

Access Good Intentions, the full report, and its tip sheets for parents and volunteers in English and Spanish.



Good Intentions builds on the body of girls leadership research conducted by the GSRI and continues to support and inform the New Girl Scout Leadership Experience, launched in the fall of 2008, for girls ages 5 to 17.

Exploring Girls' Leadership (2007) reviewed the current literature on girls and leadership. The gaps found in the literature gave rise to Change It Up! What Girls Say About Redefining Leadership (2008), an original research study, which revealed that girls say they want to be the type of leader who stands up for their beliefs and values, brings people together to get things done, and tries to change the world for the better.

Rounding out the research on girls nationwide, The New Leadership Landscape (2009) echoed what girls say they want in a leader: personal principles, ethical behavior, and the ability to effect social change; not the command-and-control model of leadership.

It also revealed the positive impact that the historic presidential election of 2008 had on youth: greater interest in political and social issues among young people; heightened appreciation of women's abilities and barriers they face; and, increased confidence in their ability to achieve goals and to change things in the country.

Based on a great deal of research, Transforming Leadership (2008) maps out the projected outcomes of the New Girl Scout Leadership Experience for girls in Girl Scouting that will allow girls to focus on desired changes and Girl Scouting to inform the youth development community.

Transforming Leadership Continued (2009) expands the discussion of leadership begun in Transforming Leadership with its focus on the three Girl Scout Processes—Girl Led, Learning by Doing, and Cooperative Learning.

These processes, when integrated with the outcomes will provide girls with the kinds of experiences that help them become the kind of leaders they want to be today and in the future.


Do you believe that girls today are poised to become the effective leaders we need, locally and globally, for a better future?


The Girl Scout Research Institute, formed in 2000, is a vital extension of Girl Scouts of the USA.

The GSRI conducts original research, evaluation, and outcomes measurement studies, releases critical facts and findings, and provides resources essential for the advancement of the well-being and safety of girls living in today's world.

The GSRI also informs public policy and advocacy for Girl Scouting.


Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.


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Girl Scouts of the USA were Invited to the Roundtable on Social Innovation and National Service on Capitol Hill

GSRI and the National Collaboration for Youth held a webinar on Good Intentions with 100+ participants. (View the webinar slides or listen to the audio feed.)

The Girl Scouts of the USA's Washington Office convened a Roundtable on Youth Emotional and Social Wellbeing

President Barack Obama signed the Girl Scouts of the USA Commemorative Coin Act


Girl Scout Research Institute

Public Policy and Advocacy
Washington, D.C., Office

Girl Scouts of the USA

Media Inquiries

Did You Know?

Fifty-nine percent of 7th- to 12th-graders say that being around people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds is important to them. This is particularly important to girls (63% vs. 55% of boys) and Asian (68%), Hispanic (66%), and African American (65%) respondents.

—GSRI, Good Intentions, 2009

More preteens and teens today say they will vote because it is personally what they want to do (59% vs. 42% in 1989). The majority (84%) of 7th- to 12th-graders say they intend to vote in every election, up from 77% in 1989

—GSRI, Good Intentions, 2009

Today's preteens and teens also plan to be generous. Three-quarters (76%) say they will regularly give to charity, compared to 63% in 1989.

—GSRI, Good Intentions, 2009

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