Ports of Entry and Obstacles: Teenagers' Access to Volunteer Activities


  • Richard A. Sundeen,

  • Sally A. Raskoff


The recruitment of young people into volunteering activities is the primary focus of this article. We examine which teenagers volunteer, the ways that teenagers become involved in volunteer activities, and why teenagers do not volunteer. Teenagers who volunteer tend to have dominant status, that is, access to social power, high personal competency, and socialization into volunteer experiences through family, church, and school. Personal contact with family, friends, and teachers who are involved with service, prior participation in school- and church-based service, and personal initiative lead teenagers to learn about and engage in volunteering activities. Teenagers who do not volunteer often do not have sufficient time or interest. Differences exist among teenagers as to which factors prompt volunteering. For example, teenagers who are white, have parents who volunteer, and attend religious services are more likely than others to learn about volunteer activities through organizations, and teenagers with higher personal competency (grade point averages) are more likely than others to learn about volunteering activities at school. The article includes suggestions for recruitment policy and management of teenage volunteers.