USC speech

October 30, 2007

Teen morals survey

Filed under: Uncategorized — minimax @ 5:04 pm

What were you like as a high school student? Were you very different from the typical high school student today? Do you think your thinking now about what is right and wrong is very different from teenagers’? If so, in what way? How much do you worry about the teenagers in Taiwan today?

tolerant • traditional • values • moral standards • strict (standards) • worrisome • peer • vandalism • skip class • play hooky • ban • license • pirated software • faking a signature/name stamp • cut in line • violate a rule • elderly • disabled person • filial piety • inconsiderate • percentage • justified

A recently completed survey shows today’s teenagers are surprisingly tolerant of certain behaviors that are considered wrong according to traditional values. Another interesting result of this survey was that girls clearly have much stricter moral standards than do boys.

Have you read about this survey, or anything similar? Without knowing the details of the survey, do you already have a sense that teenagers today have less strict moral standards than has been traditional in Taiwan? If so, what are some examples of things that teenagers now accept that were traditionally considered wrong? Do you think the teenagers’ moral standards are worrisome?

This survey, conducted by a researcher at the Academia Sinica’s Institute of Sociology (中研院社會所), asked more than 2,000 local teenagers about their views on certain behaviors. The survey question asked, “If one of your peers behaved in each of the following ways, would you feel they were wrong?” The answer choices were “not wrong” (沒有錯), “somewhat wrong” (只有一點錯), “definitely wrong” (當然錯), and “no opinion” (無意見). The teenagers were asked about 17 different behaviors, including “cheating on a test”, “skipping class or dropping out of school”, vandalism”, “fighting”, “smoking”, “taking drugs”, “drinking alcoholic beverages”, and “lying”.

Here is the complete list of behaviors that were asked about in the survey: (1) cheating on a test, (2) skipping class or dropping out of school, (3) vandalism (such as of school property), (4) fighting, (5) smoking, (6) taking drugs, (7) drinking alcoholic beverages, (8) lying, (9) riding a motorcycle or driving a car without a license, (10) using pirated software, (11) faking a parent’s signature or name stamp, (12) cutting in line, (13) violating traffic rules, (14) not offering one’s seat to the elderly or disabled, (15) not showing filial piety, (16) having sex, (17) being inconsiderate of others. Which behavior do you think the highest percentage of teenagers considered “definitely wrong”? What percentage would you guess said it was “definitely wrong”? Which behavior do you think the lowest percentage of teenagers considered “definitely wrong”? What percentage would you guess said it was “definitely wrong”? What do you think of the survey question? Do you see any problems with it? What other behaviors do you think it would be interesting to ask teenagers about?

The survey results showed that the behavior believed to be wrong by the lowest percentage of teenagers was having sex, with only 29% of boys and 38% of girls believing it to be definitely wrong. These percentages were much lower than the percentages of boys and girls who thought cutting in line was definitely wrong (52% of boys and 63% of girls). In the eyes of teenagers, cutting in line is a much more serious wrong than having sex.

How surprised are you that “having sex” was considered “definitely wrong” by a smaller percentage of teenagers than any of the other 17 behaviors? How worrisome do you think it is that only about a third of teenagers say it’s definitely wrong? What do you think of the last sentence in this paragraph? Do you think there is any problem with the reporter’s conclusion that teenagers think cutting in line is a much more serious wrong than having sex? If it’s true that teenagers really think cutting in line is more wrong than having sex, do you think that is worrisome? Do you think having sex is wrong? Do you think it’s wrong for a teenager? If so, why?

Here are the complete results of the survey:
Percentage answering “definitely wrong”
Behavior Boys Girls
(01) Cheating on a test 55 63
(02) Skipping class or playing hooky 62 70
(03) Vandalism (such as of school property) 76 81
(04) Fighting 67 77
(05) Smoking 46 62
(06) Taking drugs 88 94
(07) Drinking alcoholic beverages 41 55
(08) Lying 44 47
(09) Riding a motorcycle or driving a car without a license 46 52
(10) Using pirated software 39 54
(11) Faking a parent’s signature or name stamp 54 52
(12) Cutting in line 52 63
(13) Violating traffic rules 54 58
(14) Not offering one’s seat to the elderly or disabled 60 61
(15) Not showing filial piety 77 83
(16) Having sex 29 38
(17) Being inconsiderate of others 49 52

Which, if any, of the results do you find surprising? Thinking back to the reporter’s statement in the first paragraph of the article, do you think he is justified in saying that the survey shows that “girls clearly have much stricter moral standards than do boys”? Whether or not you think the survey shows this, do you believe in general that girls do have stricter moral standards than do boys? If you do, can you think of any reasons why it might be true? What do you think of what the reporter wrote? What is his attitude? Do you share his attitude? What do you think of the survey overall?

01 Cheating on a test [ boys 55% | girls 64% ]

Do you think cheating on a test is definitely wrong? How much did you cheat when you were a student? What was the probably the most serious instance of cheating you were involved with? What was your response when you saw other students cheating?

02 Skipping class or playing hooky [ boys 62% | girls 70% ]

Do you think skipping class is definitely wrong? How about playing hooky? How often did you do either of these things when you were a student? What did you usually do when you were supposed to be in class or at school, but weren’t?

03 Vandalism (such as of school property) [ boys 76% | girls 81% ]

Do you vandalism is definitely wrong? Have you ever vandalized anything? Why did you do it?

04 Fighting [ boys 67% | girls 77% ]

Do you think fighting is definitely wrong? How many fights have you been in? What caused the fight? What happened during the fight? Did you make up afterwards with the person you fought?

05 Smoking [ boys 46% | girls 62% ]

Do you think smoking is definitely wrong? Do you think it matters if the person is still a student? Have you tried smoking? What did you think? What do you think of laws that ban smoking in public places?

06 Taking drugs [ boys 88% | girls 94% ]

Do you think taking drugs is definitely wrong? Why or why not? Have you ever tried any illegal drugs? Would you try any if you lived in a country where they were legal?

07 Drinking alcoholic beverages [ boys 41% | girls 55% ]

Do you think drinking alcoholic beverages is definitely wrong? What about for teenagers? Have you known anyone who abused alcohol? Do you think people who abuse alcohol should be treated differently from people who abuse drugs? Why?

08 Lying [ boys 44% | girls 47% ]

Do you think lying is definitely wrong? If you think it is not always wrong, when do you think it is acceptable to lie? Do you, or would you, teach your children that it is always wrong to lie?

09 Riding a motorcycle or driving a car without a license [ boys 46% | girls 52% ]

Do you think riding a motorcycle or driving a car without a license is definitely wrong? Have you ever done this? Do you have a driver’s license now? What other types of licenses do you have?

10 Using pirated software [ boys 39% | girls 54% ]

Do you think using pirated software is definitely wrong? How much pirated software do you have on your computer? Where did you get this software?

11 Faking a parent’s signature or name stamp [ boys 54% | girls 52% ]

Do you think faking a parent’s signature or name stamp is definitely wrong? How many times did you do this when you were growing up? Why did you do it? Did you ever get caught? What would you do if you caught your own child doing this?

12 Cutting in line [ boys 52% | girls 63% ]

Do you think cutting in line is definitely wrong? How often do you cut in line? How do you react when somebody cuts in line in front of you?

13 Violating traffic rules [ boys 54% | girls 58% ]

Do you think violating traffic rules is definitely wrong? What traffic rules do you violate most often? Why? Are there any traffic laws that you think should be changed?

14 Not offering one’s seat to the elderly or disabled [ boys 60% | girls 61% ]

Do you think that not offering one’s seat to the elderly or disabled is definitely wrong? Do you ever do this?

15 Not showing filial piety [ boys 77% | girls 83% ]

Do you think not showing filial piety is definitely wrong? How would you define filial piety? Do you think it means always doing what your parents request? How much filial piety did you show to your parents when you were growing up?

16 Having sex (before marriage) [ boys 29% | girls 38% ]

Do you think having sex before marriage is definitely wrong? What about for teenagers? At what age do you think it is acceptable for people to have sex?

17 Being inconsiderate of others [ boys 49% | girls 52% ]

Do you think being inconsiderate of others is definitely wrong? How considerate of others do you think you are? What people are you most considerate of? Is there any group of people that you honestly don’t show much consideration for?

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