WASHINGTON – On a report card where America’s teens grade adults for how they have handled issues that range from teaching positive values to stopping young people from using drugs, the older generation isn’t exactly making the honor roll.

The eighth annual UCAN Teen Report Card on Adults, which was released Friday, gave adults an average grade of C-plus for their performance in matters affecting teens.

Why?

“Parents spend too much time thinking they know what’s going on in our lives,” said Mohamed Fofanah, 18, of Wheaton, Md., who along with Mercedes Boone, 15, of Washington, helped present the report at a news conference at the National Press Club.

Sponsored by the Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network, of Chicago, in partnership with the Child Welfare League of America, the survey consisted of 24 categories on which the 1,000 teens polled were asked to give adults a grade of A, B, C, D or F. Teenage Research Unlimited conducted the survey, and the responses were weighted to be proportionate to the American teenage population in age, sex and race.

Compared with the 2005 report card, adults are going backward rather than forward.

“Ability to run the government” went from a C to a C-minus and “stopping young people from smoking” went from a C-plus to a C. Similar lapses were seen in categories such as “spending quality time with families” and “being honest.”

“Understanding why teens leave home,” which went from a D-plus to a C, was the only category to get higher marks than in 2005.

All of the grades fell within the C-minus to B range.

Once the grades were in, focus group discussions were held in Washington, Los Angeles and Chicago to get some clarification on what issues are worrying teens. Fofanah and Boone participated in the Washington focus group.

Linda Spears, CWLA vice president of corporate communications and development, said a lack of time and honesty from adults is a leading cause for concern.

It has been a theme in past surveys that young people feel adults do not listen to them enough, Spears said. But on this year’s report card, parents brought home a lower grade on “being honest” than in previous years.

“It really shows, I think, that we’re not slowing down enough to hear them,” she said.

How can parents bring their grades up? Spears said it is a matter of spending time with teenagers and listening to what they have to say.

“It really is about taking the time to have a conversation,” she said.

The survey had sampling error of 3 percent and was conducted by mail in January and February.


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