Elisabeth Wolfe, a 16-year-old junior at Princeton High School, is active in a number of peace efforts protesting military action in Iraq. She explains: "I'm in New Jersey Students for Peace, a group made up of high school students from the Princeton area. About ten different schools are in the group." Elisabeth says the main goal of the organization is to increase support of the peace movement and to raise awareness of such issues as increased military spending.
Elisabeth has participated in peaceful protests against the war in Princeton's Palmer Square as well as in New York City. "This isn't a political issue for me," says Elisabeth. "I believe all war is wrong. You simply can't fight violence with violence."
At the Palmer Square event in June, Elisabeth had a chance to address the audience briefly from the podium. "I emphasized to the young people out there that we're the ones who can change our own future. I support the soldiers as people and I am concerned about their dying," she explains. Elisabeth sees her current work as an extension of her personal beliefs. "While I don't know exactly what I am going to do when I grow up, I do see myself doing some sort of relief work and traveling about the world to help people." She sees herself possibly becoming a teacher or a political activist. Elisabeth is already well on her way.
The Gallup Organization asked teens whether they believe that the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over. Nearly two-thirds (62%) of respondents agreed that the situation was worth going to war over, while 37% said it was not. Among U.S. adults, the percentage saying they feel the war was worthwhile has fluctuated somewhat in recent months, from 65% in mid-December 2003 to 49% at the end of January 2004 to 55% in early March 2004.
The current support for the war among teens varies greatly by race--69% of white teens feel the situation was worth going to war over, as do just 49% of non-white teens. Not surprisingly, political leanings strongly influence the view of teens on the war. Eighty-five percent of teens who say they plan to vote Republican when they are old enough believe the situation was worth going to war over, while less than half that percentage of Democratic teens (41%) feel the same. Teens who plan to vote as independents fall between the other two groups, at 62%.
Although most teens feel that the war in Iraq was worth it, fewer believe that the war has accomplished one of the main objectives that President Bush put forth before the attack--making the U.S. safer from terrorism. Only (37%) of teens said that the U.S. is safer because of the war, but a substantial number--28%--feels that it has made the country less safe, and 33% thinks that the war in Iraq has not had any effect on U.S. safety from terrorism.
Source: Gallup Youth Survey, conducted between January 22 and March 9, 2004.