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New Study: Teens Improve Their Futures by Helping Strangers

Katie Boonkrataung, 18, likes working with refugees. Her parents originally came to America from Thailand in the 1980s. And though they were not refugees, she thinks that meeting, serving and learning about those who come from other cultures helps her identify with how her parents felt when they arrived in America.

But more than that, the Layton, Utah, teen simply likes to help others and says it helps her, too, whether she's volunteering with a school club or through Youthlinc, a service organization with which she'll participate in her second international humanitarian trip this summer.

"I love working with people, whether tutoring them, doing activities with them, being able to meet them and have a conversation," she said. "The benefits to them, I guess, is a lot of them don't have companionship and a connection with people. I feel I get so much more from it, learning where people come from, their cultures, the workings of the world."

New research from Brigham Young University published in the journal Child Development says that Boonkrataung benefits more than she may realize when she assists others. The researchers found that teenagers who help others, especially strangers, reap long-term benefits that include less likelihood they'll be involved in delinquent or aggressive behaviors three years later.

Lead image from Deseret News.
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