They were not brought up through the example of Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya, Pavka Korchagin, Timur and his team. They did not wear red ties and Lenin's badges. Modern young people born in the period of perestroika and independent Ukraine have been brought up under different conditions. Elder generations grumble that the youth is no longer as before. So, what are they - the agemates of independence?

According to the sociological surveys conducted by Yaremenko social research institute and Ptukha demographic and social research institute, modern youth puts first health, family values, economic independence and personal freedom. Girls give priority to love and helping other people. They value education and knowledge more than boys do. Boys are more interested in prosperity and high position in society.

Is everybody ok?

Declaring principles is one thing, while following them is another one. "Though many young people claim to value health, bad habits are very popular among youth. Many girls and boys admit that they started smoking in early age - 30% before 14 years old, 36% - before 16 year old," chief research worker of Ptukha demographic and social research institute Natalia Rynchag told ForUm. Chief Doctor of the Kyiv health center Otto Stoyka shares the concern. According to him, the average age young people start smoking is 12-13 years old. "But don't lay the full blame on the youth. Look how strong the tobacco lobbying and cigarette commercials are in Ukraine. Fortunately, starting from September cigarette commercials will be banned and we expect it will have positive effect on the health of our youth," the doctor says.

Apart from bad habits, health of young people is threatened by sedentary lifestyle. "By 30-34 years more than third of Ukraine's population suffer obesity. Our youth is not engaged into mass sport. More than two fifths of our youth do not do sport at all, while another two fifths do it irregularly," Natalia Rynchag says. The outcome is not very promising - 90% of schoolchildren suffer postural disorder, and every third pupil of Ukraine suffers vegetative-vascular dystonia of different gravity.

Model wives and husbands

Joint researches of Yaremenko and Ptukha institutes reveal that the majority of Ukrainian youth plans on having families with two children, while childfree tendency is not popular in our country. At the same time, very few girls and boys dream about large families. More than 50% of Ukrainian youth want to have traditional marriage with the stamp in passport. About 40% of young people believe that relations must be tested through routine and that it is better to live together for sometime before marriage. Less than 5% have no intentions to register relationships officially.

"The age model of marriage is changing in Ukraine. More and more young people postpone marriages till graduation and employment," Natalia Rynchag notes. This means that Western practice of late marriages has come to Ukraine. In Greece, for example, the average marriage age for men is 31, for women - 26. French men get married at 29, women - at 28. In Ukraine, the average marriage age is not so different from the EU - 27 and 25 for men and women respectively.

The number of early marriages decreases with every passing year. In 2007 there were 66 thousand Ukrainian girls who got married under the age of 20, while in 2010 the number decreased to 38 thousand. In addition, starting from this year early marriages are banned in Ukraine. According to the new law, Ukrainians can get married only at 18 years old, and in emergency cases as pregnancy or birth of a child - at 16 years old.

Despite serious attitude towards marriage, Ukrainian teens start sex life early. "According to the survey, 27% of schoolchildren of last grades have already had sex experience. Among students of technical schools, the figures show 53%. Sex debut of every tenth respondent happened under the age of 15," Natalia Rynchag says. The positive moment of this situation is that the majority of respondents claimed they used means of contraception. "It means that sex education classes are being carried out not in vain. The only problem is that girls practice unprotected sex more often than boys. After all, it's them who face unplanned pregnancy," she added. Valentyna Kolomeychuk, deputy head of the health Ministry department on motherhood and childhood, shares the concern. "Almost 70% of girls under 15-19 practice unprotected sex, and 9.1% have two and more sex partners over a year," she underlined.

Young and talented

Speaking about problems of young people, we should not forget about their progress. In particular, according to the State statistics, Ukrainians have been studying more since 1990. The number of graduates has increased threefold for the years of independence and the number of postgraduates - in two and a half times. The practice to combine study and work becomes more and more popular. About 30% of young people start working immediately after enrolling at a university. "20% of young people of Ukraine take extra classes for self- improvement. This is not a bad result, though our youth is far from practicing life-long study, as the modern world requires," Natalia Rynchag says.

Though certain misbalance in education sphere has happened for the years of independence (Ukraine is overloaded with economists and lawyers), Ukrainian graduates and young scientists still manage to conquer the world. In particular, out IT specialists are no worse than western ones. Despite political and economic crises, Ukraine still has talents. Yulia Osmak from Kyiv, for example, became the world chess champion in 2010 in her age category (for that moment she was 12). Yulia Fishtin is seven now. When she was five, she dictated a book "Adventures of a kopeck" to her parents and won the international literature award in Germany. She was the youngest author in Eastern Europe. Works of Polina Gorlova, 12-year-old designer from Zaporizhya, were appreciated by the very Pierre Cardin.

Chief Doctor of Pavlov's mental hospital and chief psychiatrist of Kyiv Vyacheslav Mishiyev told ForUm that youth of Ukraine has its problems and its "heights". According to the doctor, older generations should not complain about the youth. "We have nice young people, conscious and responsible, who lead active life free of bad habits. Personally, I know many such people," he said.

Some words about conscious. This August, the sociological group "Rating" has held a survey among Ukrainians regarding support of Ukraine's independence.  It has turned out that the biggest patriots of out Motherland are young people in the age of 18-29. They are more often than others are ready to defend our land.

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.” This quote is 25-century-old and belongs to Greek philosopher Socrates. Ukrainian youth also gets criticized by elder generations pretty often. But maybe, instead of slapping it would be better if this elder generation offers practical pieces of advice sometimes as well.
Alina Yeremeyeva


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