American Teenagers Feel Less Safe Ten Years After 9/11, Study Shows

Ten years after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, close to half of America’s teenagers are even more anxious than they were in 2001, a new Harris Poll shows.

The results show that 42 percent of American teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 are afraid of a terrorist attack. Fewer of them also believe today that the U.S. is cable of winning the war on terror, with only 64 percent agreeing with the statement today compared to 82 percent in 2001.

Even though Osama bin Laden was recently found and killed by the U.S., teens are less likely today than those immediately after the attacks to believe that those responsible for the attacks will be found and punished, 55 percent vs. 79 percent in September 2001.

The issue of the post-9/11 shock is big enough among adults, one might think. But the new study shows that the attacks influenced the lives of an entire young generation. That includes changes in lifestyle, which are likely here to stay. For example, of the teens polled, 27 percent say that they are less likely to travel by airplane as a result of the war on terrorism, a view shared by a similar number of teens three months after the attacks.

Compared to ten years ago, fewer teens trust the government’s leadership as far as defense is concerned although fewer think that the U.S. should increase the intensity of its anti-terror policies. There is also a smaller number of teens today who believe that a similar attack might happen again.

The war on terror also made less young America teens willing to enlist in the army.

“This generation seems poised to have a distinctive world view, framed by lowered optimism for themselves and the country,” says the study.

The research suggests that "elected officials should take note of this generation's decreased confidence in government and their increased belief in the importance of being involved in the political process."

Another surprising aspect of the study concerns personal and family-oriented behavior as a result of the war on terrorism. A higher percentage of teenagers, 26 percent vs 16 percent in 2001, surveyed said they are more likely to study hard at school. Twenty-two percent are more likely to listen to parental advice today compared to 16 percent in the December after 9/11.

Meanwhile, teenagers are less likely to give to charities. While 42 percent were willing to donate to charity as a result of the war on terrorism in 2001, only 18 percent said they were willing to do so today.

The results were based on a Harris Poll of 1,227 8-18 year olds (465 8-12 year olds and 762 13-18 year olds) surveyed online between July 13 and 21, 2011.