Public Release: 

Survey finds deep concerns among young people of color about crim justice and gun violence

Survey delves into young people's attitudes toward the presidential candidates, political parties, perceptions of race and the criminal justice system, gun control, terrorism, and LGBT policy attitudes

NORC at the University of Chicago

A new survey released today highlights how race and ethnicity shape the opinions of the country's most diverse generation by exploring the most critical and timely political, social, and economic issues impacting the United States. The GenForward survey is from the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

"There are tremendous racial and ethnic disparities when it comes to young people's experiences with and reactions to police brutality," said Cathy Cohen, a professor of political science and founder of the Black Youth Project and GenForward survey at the University of Chicago. "Nearly three-quarters of young African American adults believe that the killing of black people by the police is an extremely serious problem, compared with just a quarter of young whites. Indeed, fully 45 percent of young African Americans say that police brutality is one of the three most important problems facing America today."

The survey also found that Asian Americans, Latino/as, and whites are more likely to view the June 2016 shooting at the Florida nightclub as terrorism than say the same about the June 2015 shooting at a South Carolina church. The study similarly found that 76 percent of African Americans, 73 percent of Latino/as, 66 percent of Asian Americans, and 57 percent of whites say verdicts in the cases related to Freddie Gray's death give them less faith in the criminal justice system.

Some of the key findings from the nationally representative survey of young people age 18-30 taken July 9-20, 2016, include:

  • Young African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latino/as, age 18-30, continue to favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump and have a more favorable opinion of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party. Young whites are divided between the candidates and have mixed views of both parties.
  • Young African Americans are more likely than other young people to have experienced police harassment and to believe that the police killings of black people is a very serious problem. Majorities of young people of all races and ethnicities believe violence against police is a serious problem in the United States.
  • Among young people, gun ownership and experiences with gun violence vary across racial and ethnic groups, and young African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos/as are more likely to prioritize gun control over gun ownership rights.
  • Most young people of all races and ethnicities favor LGBT rights and protections, and the support for such policies has increased in the last two years, especially among young whites.

"In the wake of mass shootings and continuing gun violence in cities across the country, the issue is a top concern for many young people," said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. "We find that majorities of young African Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos believe it is more important to control gun ownership than to protect the right to own guns, while a majority of young whites take the opposite stance."


About the Survey

Data come from GenForward, a survey of the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The AP-NORC Center, with a nationally representative sample of 1,940 adults age 18-30 years old. Interviews were completed online and using landlines and cell phones from July 9-20, 2016. Results have a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.8 percentage points. More information about the survey and reports can be found at

The proper description of the survey's authorship is as follows: GenForward is a survey of the Black Youth Project at the University of Chicago with The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

About the Black Youth Project

The Black Youth Project (BYP) began as a national survey research project led by Dr. Cathy Cohen in 2005, and has since grown into an organization committed to: 1) producing research about the ideas, attitudes, decision-making, and lived experiences of youth and young adults, especially from communities of color, 2) amplifying the perspectives of young people daily without censorship or control via the BYP website, and 3) providing resources to encourage civic engagement and media literacy among youth and young adults.

BYP has both developed and fielded new national surveys that provide insight into the concerns of young Americans, detailing their policy preferences, participatory practices, and views about their communities and the country. Recent media citations include MSNBC, Politico, CNN, National Public Radio, The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, The Associated Press, and Reuters.

About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world.

The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world's population sees news from AP.

NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge.

The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

Contact: For more information, contact Mark Peters at or 773-702-8356; Eric Young for NORC at or 703-217-6814 (cell); or Paul Colford for AP at

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