Developing Social Responsibility in Teens

To be well-integrated and active denizens of society it is recommended that adolescents learn to be responsible with themselves, others and their environment, according to by Gail Kennedy, educator in Family and Consumer Resources. Having a sense of social responsibility enables teens to practice compassion and the value of being of service to others 1. Modeling responsibility and instilling values in your teen can inspire her to be a socially responsible individual.


Values, such as compassion and respect for self and others, set firm foundations for teens to develop social responsibility 1. Health professionals at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation agree that respect for others begins with self-respect 2. Teens can engage in charity work, such as feeding the homeless, to develop compassion for others in circumstances that are less fortunate than their own. In these roles, adolescents can learn that those who are underprivileged in some way still deserve respect from others.

Personal Responsibility

With more freedom and independence given to teens than they received as younger children, personal responsibility is imperative and can shape the course of a teen's social life 1. Take, for instance, the emergence of social media. Parental oversight on teens' social media accounts is often minimal as parents seek to give their teens a sense of privacy. Socially responsible teens refrain from cyber bullying or engaging in any other behaviors that ostracize their peers, even if everyone else chooses to engage in this behavior.


Professionals at Australia's Raising Children Network suggest that although younger children actively model their parents' behavior, teens still learn from the examples that their parents set at home and in society. Parents who demonstrate compassion to others, or who engage in volunteer activities, are teaching their teens to practice these acts as well. Even going the extra mile to recycle products teaches teens to have an environmental awareness and sense of social responsibility 1.

Positive Peer Groups

Peer groups are an important developmental component of the adolescent experience. They teach teens how to interact socially with others and also help teens form a sense of identity through the mirror of their adolescent cohorts. Positive peer groups that practice social responsibility are useful in helping teens develop this characteristic within themselves. It's important for parents to help their teens identify positive peer groups and to inform teens on the short- and long-term implications of engaging with negative peer groups.