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Young People 'Open to Idea' of God and Prayer

Tuesday November 14 2023

New research produced in partnership with the Boys’ Brigade has found that fewer young people are identifying as Christian than ten years ago, but that there is still openness to the idea of God and to prayer.

The findings are contained in ‘Youth Culture and Trends’, an insight report from the Boys’ Brigade and Youthscape, which explores the trends and pressures on the lives of young people today. The research was launched at an event at the Houses of Parliament, hosted by the Rt Hon Sir Lindsay Hoyle MP, Speaker of the House of Commons, to celebrate the organisation’s 140th anniversary.

The report is a summarises an extensive review of published data relating to the lives of 10-18 year-olds across the UK, under the headings of Health & Wellbeing, Identity, Values & Beliefs, Behaviour & Lifestyle, Relationships and Education & Future.

Among the other findings are that young people are generally less satisfied with life overall and that rates of mental health problems and self-harm have increased. There is greater diversity in sexual orientation and gender identity, and today’s teenagers are much less likely to smoke, drink alcohol or take illegal drugs. There has been a drop in the rate of under-18 pregnancies, and youth offending rates have decreased. However, knife crime rates are up.

Satisfaction with friendships has dropped, and young people are more likely to report feeling lonely sometimes. They spend less time in-person socialising, less time engaged in play and more time with friends online.

The report concludes that there are key opportunities for the Boys’ Brigade in providing Christian-based youth work in disadvantaged areas, ‘modelling the inclusive nature of the Kingdom of God’, ‘providing safe and inclusive spaces within local communities’ and ‘empowering young people to believe in themselves and their God-given potential’.

Chris Curtis, Chief Executive of Youthscape, said: “Working together with the Boys’ Brigade, our Centre for Research has conducted what I believe is the first post-pandemic analysis of how life is different for teenagers compared to a decade ago. It’s exhaustive, drawing from more than 90 pieces of published research. Only organisations who are willing to listen to young people are likely to be regarded by them as having anything worth saying. That puts the Boys’ Brigade in a strong position going forward.”

This research will help to shape and inform the work of the Boys’ Brigade, including providing the organisation’s volunteer leaders with a resource to help ‘see’ young people and the worlds they inhabit with clarity and compassion.

Jonathan Eales, Chief Executive, said: “As well as giving thanks and celebrating our 140th anniversary, it is vital that significant moments like this, are as much about looking forward as looking back. There is so much we can learn from this report and about the challenges facing young people today, like loneliness, isolation and the impacts on mental health. It’s also an important reminder that what our local groups do and what we offer young people within the BB is so important.”

Find out more and download the research at 

Life and Work is the magazine of the Church of Scotland. Subscribe here.


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