Dr. Jennifer Bateman, Senior Vice President of Youth Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, shares insights with Comcast Newsmakers on how young people are doing and how Clubs are responding to ensure youth reach their full potential.
Each year, Boys & Girls Clubs of America surveys Club kids and teen across the nation to learn more about how America’s youth are doing. In 2023, our Youth Right Now survey garnered responses from more than 130,000 kids and teens about their feelings on multiple topics from stress management to the social issues impacting their generation, as well as their expectations for life after high school graduation.
These insights give Boys & Girls Clubs, as well as parents, educators and afterschool providers, a picture of how young people are doing. They also empower us to ensure kids and teens are getting the support they need to reach their full potential.
In early 2023, Dr. Jennifer Bateman, Senior Vice President of Youth Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of America, joined Comcast Newsmakers to share some insights into the state of America’s youth. As a national partner to Boys & Girls Clubs of America, Comcast NBCUniversal is committed to supporting today’s youth in becoming future-ready through digital literacy and skill-building. Read on to learn more about what the data is showing.
Throughout the nation, youth are experiencing an ongoing crisis of mental health as they contend with several challenges affecting their mental well-being including managing stress, bullying, peer relationships and the negative impact of social media.
“External data shows emergency room visits nationally rose between 22 and 39 percent during the pandemic1 due to suicide, self-harm and other mental health behaviors,” says Dr. Bateman. “One in five people experience clinically elevated levels of anxiety; one in four young people experience clinically elevated levels of depression2. At Boys & Girls Clubs of America, our Youth Right Now survey shows that young people are excessively worried.”
Youth Right Now 2023 data shows young people are struggling as they navigate stress and peer relationships:
“They're not able to let go of some of the things that concern them and are seeking additional support with developing coping skills to be able to manage these stressors,” says Dr. Bateman.
To provide that support, Boys & Girls Clubs of America aims to be the largest trauma-informed youth-serving organization in the world. This means equipping Boys & Girls Club staff with training that allows them to recognize youth depression and anxiety while providing youth mentoring programs in compassionate, inclusive spaces. With a focus on activities to promote social and emotional development, Boys & Girls Clubs help young people build friendships and develop self-esteem which empowers them to express themselves openly and honestly.
“Meaningful relationships are the number one protective factor for youth,3 development and thriving,” says Dr. Bateman. “To meet the needs of today’s youth, we're just doubling down on what we already do really well.”
One of the many benefits of mentor-mentee relationships Club kids and teens enjoy is having additional support outside of home with adults in whom they can confide. Additionally, some Clubs have onsite mental health providers while others provide youth mental health resources and coping strategies through such national partners as On Our Sleeves.
Kids today face unique challenges, with their relationships, news and self-expression playing out increasingly more so online.
“[Youth have] expressed challenges with pressure to maintain an image on social media or witnessing others’ curated images and social comparison in relation to that,” says Dr. Bateman. “There are several variables that young people report as concerning; first is the constant information overload that social media and other platforms provide. There’s an inability to disconnect from information on the social ills of society.”
Young people get their news from social media more than any other source including family and friends — and they’re passionate about many topics in the headlines.
“They care about a lot of social issues, mental health being one of them. They are very concerned about gun violence. They’re concerned about racial discrimination, LGBTQ+ inclusion and a host of other social issues,” says Dr. Bateman.
Youth Right Now 2023 data points to an engaged generation passionate about making positive change:
To help young people in move toward the world they envision for themselves, Boys & Girls Clubs teach them how to advocate for themselves and the issues they care about, building important leadership skills through programs and experiences. We also provide guidance on identifying and combating bullying. Through life and workforce readiness programs, Clubs give youth the skills to be successful after high school and achieve anything they can dream.
Explore Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2023 Youth Right Now survey results at BGCA.org/YouthRightNow.
Comcast NBCUniversal is a preeminent media and entertainment company in developing, producing and marketing entertainment, news and information around the globe. Dedicated to empowering young people with digital literacy and technology for workforce and life readiness, Comcast NBCUniversal has been a valued partner of the Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 2014.
Boys & Girls Clubs help millions of young people each year develop the skills to stand up for what they think is right and elevate their voices. Learn how to get involved with Boys & Girls Clubs of America.