Attitudes to young people

Year of Young People to challenge negative stereotypes.

People are most likely to hold positive views of young people as trustworthy and helpful to others, new research from the Scottish Government shows.

The survey, published during the launch week of Year of Young People 2018 examined the attitudes and perceptions of more than 1,000 adults towards 13-19 year olds.

It found that those who said they personally knew a young person were much more likely to be positive in their views of young people in general.

But a quarter viewed young people as lazy, more than a third saw them as irresponsible and almost four in ten thought they were lacking in communication skills.

Speaking ahead of a visit to the Granton Youth Centre, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it showed there was still more to be done to change attitudes across society towards young people.

He said: “Too often, teenagers feel that others view them negatively simply because of their age. This can really have an impact on their own wellbeing and self-esteem.

“We must all do more to talk up our young people, showcase their strengths and instil them with self-confidence as they move towards adulthood.

“The Year of Young People is designed to foster more respect and understanding between generations. It will show everyone across Scotland just how talented our young people are but also how challenging their daily lives can be - contrary to what some of us might think.

“I hope it will go some way to challenging those negative perceptions reported in this survey.”

The findings include:

  • More people held positive attitudes towards young people than held negative attitudes.
  • The areas where young people were perceived most positively were being trustworthy (41% of respondents agreed, 12% disagreed), and helping others (40%, 17% disagreed).
  • The area where they were perceived most negatively were communication skills (39% agreed that young people lack these, 31% disagreed) and taking responsibility for their own actions (35% disagreed, 26% agreed).
  • Positive attitudes were more likely to be held by people who had a relationship with a young person; came from the professional occupational groups; lived in the least deprived SIMD quintile; and women.
  • Those in the 18-24 age group were most positive, while those in the 25 to 49 group were most negative. For some questions, those in the oldest age group (65 plus) were as positive as those in the youngest.
  • Voting behaviour has a marked impact on an individual’s attitudes to young people.


Read the Scottish Government report Public attitudes to young people in Scotland. All figures are from Progressive Partnership Ltd. Total sample size was 1,027. Fieldwork was undertaken between 14 and 17 March 2017. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).

Find out more about the Year of Young People 2018 online.


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