Mason and Loudoun Youth Initiative Team Up on Youth Study

Posted: March 19, 2007 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

David Anderson, professor in the College of Education and Human Development, and Laurie Dopkins, research professor in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, directed the Loudoun Youth Study 2006, the findings of which have just been released.

The study explored what opportunities there are for youth in Loudoun County, Va., and involved a formalized needs assessment and strategic planning process. The findings of the Youth Study include

  • Community and youth overall – Loudoun County is a desirable place to live, but it is changing rapidly, a factor that influences youth and family life. Support for youth programs is strong.

  • Youth engagement opportunities – Many youth opportunities already exist, but more places for youth to gather are needed.

  • Youth belonging – Few feelings of ownership or a sense of belonging are found among youth.

  • Youth respect for others – Youth showed respect for others, however, there were indications of an increase in violence among youth. Cross-cultural issues appear to be growing.

  • Youth healthy living – Youth are making healthy choices for themselves, and they value peer resources.

  • Foundational systems – The readiness in the county for addressing youth needs in a meaningful way is high, but there is lack of public awareness for many youth resources that currently exist.

To arrive at these findings, Anderson and Dopkins used a combination of telephone surveys of Loudoun County households, focus groups with high school youth and interviews conducted with key county leaders in nonprofit, business, government and school settings.

The researchers also provided 25 recommendations for county leaders in moving forward. Further, they developed and recommended a detailed strategic plan with both short-term and long-term strategies for implementation by the county.

Anderson and Dopkins noted that “this report, and the collaborative process used, provides a strong foundation for meaningful actions and opportunities for youth across the county.”

Recommendations and goals for implementation of the study and the in-depth study can be found at

Loudoun County has a long-term commitment to its youth through implementing a range of forward-thinking initiatives, including the formation of the Loudoun Youth Initiative in 2005.

For more information, contact Tim Chesnutt, director of the Loudoun Youth Initiative, at 703-737-8346.

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