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· Administration for Children and Families. US Dept. of Health and Human Services
· The American Family

· American Teenagers
· Child, Youth and Family Policies: United States
· Growing Up Healthy
· Harvard Family Research Project
· Snapshots of America's Families III: Tracking Change 1997 - 2002


· America's Children at a Glance
· America's Children in Brief 2010
America's Families and Living Arrangements 2009
· Changes in the Lives of U.S. Children: 1990-2000
· The Child Population
· Child Trends Databank
Children and the Households They Live In: 2000 
· A Child's Day 2006

· ChildStats
· Kids Count Data Center
· Living Arrangements of Children 2004
Monitoring the Future. Annual Survey
Statistical Abstracts of the United States
· Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth 2003 (Chapters: Child Population I Characteristics I Family Structure I Poverty and Income I Social Development I Behavioral Health: Smoking, Alcohol and Substance Abuse

· Trends in the Well-Being of America's Children and Youth, 2003 (Dept. of Health and Human Services) Full Report
· U.S. Census Bureau: Children
· U.S. Census Bureau: Families and Living Arrangements
We, the American Children
· Youth Indicators

Teacher Resources
Child Labor in American History

Link Lists

· Child and Family Webguide
· Institute for Child and Family Policy: Links
· Youth in America


American family

Photo by Lloyd Wolf for the U.S. Census Bureau

Belonging to a family is one bond almost everyone in the world shares, but family patterns vary from country to country. The United States has many different types of families, but the traditional structure of the American family -- mother, father and children -- continues to prevail for the most part as a new century unfolds. Yet, over the past several decades, US society has witnessed an evolution in family structure and daily life in many respects, because of myriad factors, running the gamut from advancements in science to the composition of the workplace. Single parenthood, adoptive households, step-parenting, stay-at-home fathers, grandparents raising children are but a few of the newer tiles in the mosaic.

What is it like to be a young person in the United States?
The typical American child spends six hours a day, five days a week, 180 days a year in school. Children in the US start preschool or nursery school at age four or under, kindergarten at five years of age. Schools provide American children with much more than academic education. More than 80 percent of all students participate in extracurricular activities, such as sports, student newspapers, drama clubs, debate teams, choral groups and bands.

During their leisure time, American kids spend much time watching television, listening to music or playing computer games, but many also have after school jobs. One recent poll indicated that nine out of 10 teenagers polled said they either had a job or would like one. Child labor laws set restrictions on the types of work that youths under 16 years can do. Many youths work part-time on weekends or after school at fast-food restaurants, baby-sit for neighbors, hold delivery jobs or work in stores. Many youths are also involved in community service organizations or are active in church and religious-group activities. Other belong to youth groups such as Girl Scouts or Boy Scouts,were they learn about citizenship, crafts, arts, camping and other outdoor activities.

Teenagers talking in front of their high school

Thousands of young Americans volunteer to help take care of the elderly, the handicapped and hospital patients, or help clean up the environment. While for most American children and teenagers life today is nearly free of serious conflict, young people are still under many types of stress. Peer pressure, changing family conditions, mobility of families, unemployment and problems at school may lead to use of alcohol or drugs, the refusal to attend school, running away from home, teenage pregnancies or juvenile delinquency.

See also:
About the USA > Society > Demographics
About the USA > Society > Education

Special Feature:

PBS Documentaries Looks at 'Generation Next"

The 42 million 16- to 25-year-olds in the United States -- roughly 14 percent of the population -- will have a major impact on American society as they rise into adulthood. In a series of profiles on NPR's Morning Edition and PBS's NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, Judy Woodruff looks at what makes Generation Next different from its predecessors.
As a follow-up to the first documentary on the challenges facing Americans 16-to-25 years old, Judy Woodruff and the team have put together another hour of reporting. This new documentary, called "Generation Next 2.0," profiles seven young people, their views on society and outlook for the future.

American Teenagers - eJournal

American Teenagers. eJournal July 2005 (
What do American teenagers have to say about their lives, values, hopes and dreams? The essays and reflections in this e-journal give a glimpse into some of the many ways a teenager's day might unfold in the United States, as well as an insight into his or her goals, ambitions, and concerns.

Photo Gallery: Rite of Passage
Images from graduation week at a high school in the state of Virginia reflect activities common to high schools throughout the United States. Graduation week brings with it a mix of feelings and emotions for those who are about to depart school.

Texts are abridged from U.S. State Department IIP publications and other U.S. government materials.
Any reference obtained from this server to a specific commercial product, process, or service does not constitute or imply an endorsement by the United States Government of the product, process, or service, or its producer or provider. The views and opinions expressed in any referenced document do not necessarily state or reflect those of the United States Government.
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Updated: September 2010