New Directions for Youth Development

Published by Wiley
Online ISSN: 1537-5781
Print ISSN: 1533-8916
This chapter describes a framework for conceptualizing interventions intended to create the conditions linked to positive youth development. These interventions involve strategies designed to enhance either the will or the capacity of individuals, organizations, systems, or communities to change.
There is widespread agreement that many school shootings could be prevented if authorities were informed that a student was planning or preparing to carry out an attack. A universal problem is that young people are highly reluctant to report on their peers. This code of silence represents a major barrier to prevention efforts. In response to the Columbine shooting, the state of Colorado established the Safe2Tell® anonymous, 24/7 reporting system for receiving and forwarding threats of violence, bullying, and other concerns. This article describes how the program has grown to the point that it now receives more than 100 calls per month. A series of case examples illustrates its success in responding to threatening situations, including twenty-eight potential school attacks.
The rapid growth of out-of-school time programs over the past five years has resulted in a dramatic increase in opportunities for young people. However, many programs have been ill defined, without appropriate attention to the developmental needs of children and adolescents and without the necessary elements in place to fully capture the interests and talents of youth. In this chapter, the author shows how constructs drawn from research in education can be applied to research and practice in the out-of-school-time arena, in an effort to learn how the field can more fully engage young people in activities and programs. With more and more research indicating positive connections between participation in safe, supportive, and challenging activity settings and healthy psychological and social adjustment, attempts to encourage engagement rather than casual participation are warranted. Researchers and practitioners need to be mindful that engagement results not just from showing up, but from the interplay of the affective, behavioral, and cognitive experiences of youth in these settings. Suggestions for designing growth-enhancing contexts that increase the likelihood of engagement are offered, as are suggestions for future research in this area.
An irrepressibly popular musical phenomenon, hip-hop is close to spoken word and focuses on lyrics with a message, reviving local traditions of song that tell histories, counsel listeners, and challenge participants to outdo one another in clever exchanges. A hip-hop music-making program in Edmonton, Canada, successfully reengages at-risk Aboriginal youth in school with high levels of desertion and helps them establish a healthy sense of self and of their identity as Aboriginals.
An innovative program being implemented in U.S. school systems teaches youth to integrate the skills of conflict management beyond academics to their social and civic lives.
A continuing parent-youth bond throughout adolescence and young adulthood is the foundation for genuine emotional health, academic achievement, and healthy developmental trajectories and the antidote to youth violence.
Research in the past decade suggests that a persistent achievement gap between students from low-income minority backgrounds and higher-income white backgrounds may be rooted in theories of student motivation and youth purpose. Yet limited research exists regarding the role of purpose on positive youth development as it pertains to academic achievement. Using a sample of 209 high school students, this study examines the effectiveness of an intervention designed to promote purpose development and internal control over academic success in high school students from a low-socioeconomic-status community. Findings reveal that a short-term intervention was effective in significantly increasing internal control over academic success and purpose in life for students participating in the intervention group. In addition, analysis of academic achievement for students who experienced positive gains in internal control and purpose demonstrates significant gains in academic achievement as measured by grade point average. Implications are made for further study of internal control and life purpose as a means of academic intervention in the effort to address the achievement gap.
This chapter reports findings from the evaluation of an academic mentoring program for late adolescents that highlight the role of exposition to structured activities and mentors' use of some behavioral strategies. Specifically, different types of interactions in mentoring (such as discussing personal projects, resolving academic problems, and participating in social activities) and different mentors' behaviors (such as emotional involvement, directivity, and reciprocity) were examined in relation to the quality of the mentoring relationship and mentees' adjustment at the end of the program. The findings generally support the initial assumption. Mentoring that focused more on activities produced significant and positive effects on mentee adjustment, whereas mentoring that focused almost exclusively on problem solving or mostly involved open discussion did not produce significant effects. Findings also indicate that mentors who expressed some directivity coupled with high emotional involvement and reciprocity were more likely to connect with their mentees and improve their academic adjustment.
The Agatston Urban Nutrition Initiative (AUNI) presents a fruitful partnership between faculty and students at a premier research university and members of the surrounding community aimed at addressing the problem of childhood obesity. AUNI uses a problem-solving approach to learning by focusing course activities, including service-learning, on understanding and mitigating the obesity culture.
Universities, because of their vast human and fiscal resources, can play the central role in assisting in the development of school-centered community development programs that make youth development their top priority. The Futures Academy, a K-8 public school in the Fruit Belt, an inner-city neighborhood in Buffalo, New York, offers a useful model of community development in partnership with the Center for Urban Studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The goal of the project is to create opportunities for students to apply the knowledge and skills they learn in the classroom to the goal of working with others to make the neighborhood a better place to live. The efforts seek to realize in practice the Dewey dictum that individuals learn best when they have "a real motive behind and a real outcome ahead."
Increasing access, even increasing supply, may not be sufficient to attract young teens who do not typically participate in youth programs. Several youth mapping projects in rural and urban communities have led to these conclusions: youth do not know what is available even in their own neighborhoods, young teens have a strong voice in how they spend their discretionary time, and we need to learn how to market youth programs much more effectively. This author reviews important findings from youth community-mapping experiences and showcases a project attempting to move beyond access and supply issues to increasing young people's interest and engagement in community youth development programs.
This chapter discusses the collaboration between a national college access program, the National College Advising Corps (NCAC), and its research and evaluation team at Stanford University. NCAC is currently active in almost four hundred high schools and through the placement of a recent college graduate to serve as a college adviser provides necessary information and support for students who may find it difficult to navigate the complex college admission process. The advisers also conduct outreach to underclassmen in an effort to improve the school-wide college-going culture. Analyses include examination of both quantitative and qualitative data from numerous sources and partners with every level of the organization from the national office to individual high schools. The authors discuss balancing the pursuit of evaluation goals with academic scholarship. In an effort to benefit other programs seeking to form successful data-driven interventions, the authors provide explicit examples of the partnership and present several examples of how the program has benefited from the data gathered by the evaluation team.
1. Elements of program quality  
In the fragmented out-of-school-time sector, defining and measuring quality in terms of staff behaviors at the point of service provides a common framework that can reduce obstacles to cross-sector and cross-program performance improvement efforts and streamline adoption of data-driven accountability policies. This chapter views the point of service, that is, the microsettings where adults and youth purposefully interact, as the critical unit of study because it is ubiquitous across out-of-school-time programs and because it is the place where key developmental experiences are intentionally delivered. However, because point-of-service behaviors are embedded within multilevel systems where managers set priorities and institutional incentives constrain innovation, effective quality interventions must contend with and attend to this broader policy environment. The Youth Program Quality Assessment (Youth PQA) is one of an emerging class of observational assessment tools that measure staff performances at the point of service and, depending on methodology of use, can help create the conditions that managers and youth workers need to accept, adopt, and sustain accountability initiatives. Observational assessment tools can be flexible enough to be used for program self-assessment (appropriate for low-stakes, non-normative learning purposes), external assessment (appropriate for higher stakes, normative comparisons, and performance accountability), and various hybrids that combine elements from each. We provide advice for decision makers regarding how to most effectively use the Youth PQA and similar measurement tools depending on the articulation of clear purposes for which accountability and improvement policies are enacted and effective sequencing of implementation.
Evidence is emerging that youth who attend out-of-school-time (OST) programs more frequently and for longer periods of time benefit more than youth who attend less frequently or do not attend at all. It is also increasingly clear that children and youth will not reap the benefits of programs if they do not attend regularly. Collecting attendance data can help program leaders gauge demand for services, plan and manage programs effectively, and evaluate participant outcomes in relation to attendance. This chapter presents these and other reasons for collecting attendance data, as well as the methods and techniques that program leaders and researchers have at their disposal for measuring attendance. It describes four indicators of attendance--absolute attendance, intensity, duration, and breadth--that can provide detailed information and insight about youth participants and their use of programs. The chapter also provides tips for collecting attendance data and features examples from OST programs. Throughout, the chapter illustrates that the right indicators and data collection methods depend on program needs, characteristics, and goals.
Achieve Boston is a broad-based collaborative effort to improve the overall quality of programs for children and youth by establishing a professional development infrastructure that supports those who work with young people during the out-of-school-time hours.
Identifying persistent media frames through a cognitive media analysis is an important step in the empirical measurement of public thinking about social issues. Based on a recent media analysis of racial disparities as they pertain to youth in major U.S. newspapers, this article explains three frames that were persistently evoked in media coverage of youth issues: the family bubble frame--the idea that parents are solely responsible for child outcomes; youth development as a competitive race--the idea that the overarching goal of educational and social development is to make youth more successful than their peers; and the understanding of disparities as achievement gaps. Together these frames promote individualistic understanding of social problems related to youth and limit imaginable solutions to policies that fix individuals rather than broken systems.
Efforts to increase after-school programming indicate the nation's concern about how youth are engaged during out-of-school time. There are clear benefits to extending the learning that goes on during the school day. Research from the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice shows that after-school participants do better in school and have stronger expectations for the future than youth who are not occupied after school. And the need is evident: 14.3 million students return to an empty house after school, yet only 6.5 million children are currently enrolled in after-school programs. If an after-school program were available, parents of 15.3 million would enroll their child. JA Worldwide began in 1919 and has been rooted in the afterschool arena from its origins. Its after-school programs teach students about the free enterprise system through curriculum focusing on business, citizenship, economics, entrepreneurship, ethics and character, financial literacy, and career development. At the same time, JA Worldwide incorporates hands-on learning and engagement with adults as role models, both key elements to a successful after-school program. Now focused on developing curriculum emphasizing skills needed for the twenty-first century, JA adopted the key elements laid out for after-school programs by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. To ensure that the next generation of students enters the workforce prepared, America's education system must provide the required knowledge, skills, and attitudes. Programs such as JA Worldwide serve as models of how to provide the twenty-first century skills that all students need to succeed.
The majority of research on out-of-school-time activity participation has focused on its relation to academic and social development, presumed to be consequences of participation, rather than on antecedents or predictors of participation. Understanding who participates in these programs can assist program directors in improving and sustaining youth involvement. This chapter uses data from two research study samples to examine differences in children's activity participation based on family social ecology and child gender and how the relations between participation and outcomes vary based on sample, gender, and activity type. Although children in both samples were of roughly the same age and were assessed for similar outcomes, their family incomes, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, and neighborhoods were very different. Findings suggest that participation in activities varies depending on the young person's social ecology, age, and gender. Furthermore, participation in activities was typically associated with positive youth outcomes, but these relations varied depending on the level of youth participation, type of activity, and social ecology.
It is not the method of interaction but the quality of the interaction between patient and therapist, student and teacher, mentee and mentor, or youth and youth worker that is the most critical determinant of success in a myriad of fields.
This article addresses the question of why the emotions children and adolescents anticipate in the context of hypothetical scenarios have been repeatedly found to predict actual (im)moral behavior. It argues that a common motivational account of this relationship is insufficient. Instead, three links are proposed that connect cognitive representations of emotional experiences related to future (im)moral actions with decision making and action. Accordingly, it is argued that moral emotion attributions can represent a dominant desire (link 1), outcome expectancies (link 2), or an emotional response to anticipated (in)consistencies of the self (link 3). These three links exemplify different forms of moral agency that emerge in the course of children's and adolescents' development.
This article examines mathematics education as both the site and object of transformation for a youth PAR project in which students researched and evaluated their urban high school in Oakland, California. These youth researchers were trained as part of a sociology course as well as a mathematics class designed to both remediate gaps in math preparation and accelerate students into higher-order math literacy. This study differs from and extends other studies that describe mathematics as a tool for social critique. It considers youth research in and through mathematics as a more ideologically open endeavor in that youth do not simply reproduce predetermined criticisms of social inequality. Thus, this project translates extensive work in critical literacy, new media literacy, and youth participatory action research to a mathematics context.
This article begins by examining current crises facing historically marginalized youth, which necessitate more critical approaches to youth development and empirical investigations into the challenges that young people face. This requires not only listening to their voices, but actively engaging them in investigations of and interventions into social problems that affect their lives. Researching with youth raises particular dilemmas, however. The authors discuss strategies, within three guiding principles, that they found effective in conducting participatory action research with marginalized youth for the purposes of social and educational transformation.
The article reports on Latina/o high school students who conducted participatory action research (PAR) on problems that circumscribe their possibilities for self-determination. The intention is to legitimize student knowledge to develop effective educational policies and practices for young Latinas/os. PAR is engaged through the Social Justice Education Project, which provides students with all social science requirements for their junior and senior years. The mandated curriculum is supplemented with advanced-level readings from Chicana/o studies, critical race theory, critical pedagogy, and, most important, PAR. The intention is for students to meet the requirements for graduation and to develop sophisticated critical analyses to address problems in their own social contexts.
This article discusses a participatory action research (PAR) project carried out with three transnational Latina youth in northern California and how the university researcher incorporated Chicana feminist strategies in the study. PAR and Chicana feminism place at the heart of research the knowledge that ordinary people produce, referring to this knowledge as conocimientos, or "homemade theory." The author discusses the project, the collaborative writing of a children's book based on two years of data collection, the challenges in being both an insider and an outsider to the community, how the youth created a counterstory based on their transnational immigrant lifestyle, and how an out-of-school setting promoted engaged research with urban teens.
Zero-tolerance discipline policies, harsh sentencing laws, and the gentrification of communities of color have devastating effects for the lives of young people. Coupled with the fact that urban schools can devalue their views, values, and understandings of the world, this article examines an effort to challenge deficit theories that permeate discussions on urban youth. Through the setting of a street law class at a high school with a social justice focus, two facilitators (an African American male and a Latina of Puerto Rican descent, one a qualitative sociologist and the other a lawyer, both trained as qualitative researchers) and a group of high school freshmen analyze the processes of the judicial system to analyze their lives through the tenets of participatory action research.
The Worcester, Massachusetts, district-community plan for reinventing high schools shows how learning can be enhanced and transformed through intentional connections to community.
This chapter provides two case studies of projects in the United Kingdom and United States using a social action approach to encourage youth participation and civic engagement. The authors provide a snapshot of U.K. and U.S. policy related to inclusionary practice in youth development work, along with testimony from youth participating in the two community development initiatives. As part of the positive youth development approach, youth inclusion is seen as a key to policy, programs, planning, and practice with young people. Educators, researchers, and practitioners using participatory methodologies have continued to move the youth development field forward. Social action provides a theory and practice that enhances community building, social cohesion, and positive youth development.
Experiences that are deeply engaging and enjoyable, engender full concentration, and present a balance between challenge and skill promote children's development. This chapter describes a study that sought to identify the kinds of settings and activities that foster engagement and, by extension, positive youth development. The after-school experiences of 191 ethnically diverse youth living in three states, some of whom participated in after-school programs and some of whom did not, were studied. Youth were equipped with logbooks and watches that were programmed to signal at random times. When signaled, youth recorded their location, social partners, activity, and feelings. The study found pervasive differences in the experiences at programs and elsewhere. Youth spent more time in academic and arts enrichment, organized sports and physical activities, community service, and homework at programs versus elsewhere, and they spent less time eating and watching TV at programs. They also reported higher levels of motivation, engagement, and positive affect at programs. At the same time, there were few differences in activities, emotions, effort, or motivation of program participants and nonparticipants when both groups were elsewhere. The similarities in these experiences while elsewhere suggest that the program context, not differences in youth characteristics or interests, was responsible for the feelings of engagement that were reported at programs.
Participation in organized out-of-school activities leads to long-term psychosocial and educational benefits for young people. Now we're learning which features of these activities best support individual children.
This chapter draws on longitudinal data to examine the role of gender in immigrant students' educational adaptation. Analyses show that over time girls receive higher grades and express higher future expectations than do boys. Compared with boys, immigrant girls are more likely to be protected from risk factors, such as harsh school environments, by a supported network of teachers, friends, and parents, and to benefit from the shield of ethnicity more than their male counterparts in their pursuit of education.
If strengthening children's moral and spiritual selves is the most important challenge facing youth-serving organizations in the United States today, three things are required to respond: a clear road map of where to go and how to get there, a critical mass of champions prepared to lead the way, and candid readiness assessments and strategies for individuals and organizations ready to take on this work. More clarity is needed on defining the concepts of spiritual development and spirituality, the boundaries and bridges needed between religious and secular organizations, and the activities and practices that are both effective and allowable under separation of church and state. Immediate steps to take include engaging frontline workers across sectors and identifying strategies for integrating spiritual development into youth practice.
Anhedonia refers to the inability of experiencing pleasure in positive life events. It has been conceptualized as a stable yet malleable characteristic and is associated with hypoactivity in the mesolimbic and mesocortical dopaminergic systems. Very recently, it has been posited as an etiologic factor associated with drug addiction onset, escalation, and relapse. Prevention programming could be developed to counteract the harmful impact of anhedonia, so as to minimize its impact on drug misuse. Remedial efforts are those that either (1) permit the individual to tolerate low levels of pleasure without resorting to drug misuse or other maladaptive behaviors that may unhealthily besot pleasure (for example, through normalization, structuring time, or meditation) or (2) counteract anhedonia by enhancing ones capability to experience pleasure (for example, behavioral activation, positive psychology, pharmacotherapy, or pursuit of positive addictions). School-based activities could be developed that can be completed by individuals, small workgroups, or the whole classroom. The concept of anhedonia is described in this chapter, and possible prevention strategies that might be utilized in schools as well as other contexts are discussed.
The author notes that she finds the case for making spiritual development a priority surprisingly compelling-"surprisingly" because although she is an expert on adolescent development, she has not done research or previously written about spiritual development. She suggests that a systems analysis occur first, before engaging frontline youth workers in this realm, to identify the interests of key stakeholder groups and ways to unleash creativity and engagement in each of them. The key will be framing engagement of spiritual development in ways that include rather than divide sectors and groups.
The fairplayer.manual is a school-based program to prevent bullying. The program consists of fifteen to seventeen consecutive ninety-minute lessons using cognitive-behavioral methods, methods targeting group norms and group dynamics, and discussions on moral dilemmas. Following a two-day training session, teachers, together with skilled fairplayer.teamers, implement fairplayer.manual in the classroom during regular school lessons. This chapter offers a summary of the program's conception and underlying prevention theory and summarizes the results from two evaluation studies. Standardized questionnaires showed a positive impact of the intervention program on several outcome variables.
Late adolescence and the period following, often referred to as emerging adulthood, have been noted as particularly important for setting the stage for continued development through the life span as individuals begin to make choices and engage in a variety of activities that are influential for the rest of their lives. Demographic, sociocultural, and labor market changes have made the years between ages eighteen and twenty-five more transitional than in the recent past. This chapter reviews the critical assets and needs that are essential for keeping youth on healthy, productive pathways into adulthood and examines the developmental tasks and changes of late adolescence.
Identity development is central to the career development of children and adolescents. This article reviews the literature pertaining to identity development as being composed of career exploration, commitment, and reconsideration and offers some implications for career interventions.
Art can be a transformative process that not only offers youth opportunities for self-expression, but enables them to connect to their communities as part of the healing process. Having a public role offers those who are often without power to have a voice and a presence. This chapter provides information on the Arts Incentives Program at the United South End Settlements, a therapeutic, arts-based youth and community development program working with high-risk girls ages eleven to eighteen. Young people engage in community building within the program and become agents of positive community change. In revitalizing their communities, they rebuild a sense of self as essential, valued, and creative, bringing together the resources of participants, agencies, and the community.
The author examines the thinking and behavior of adolescents within the digital world. What does all this instant messaging and blogging outside school hours mean? Why do adolescents do it? How much time do they spend doing it? How does it shape their social, emotional, and moral development? Bradley describes the phenomenon and explores some moral development ramifications of a new context of social experience for adolescents. It proposes that the digital world creates its own social context, with a different set of social conventions from the adult-mediated "real" world that adolescents also inhabit. It is a social context that most adults are aware of but do not understand. Adolescents' experiences in the online world influence their experiences in the face-to-face world and play an important role in the development of their social and moral knowledge. This chapter places the discussion within the context of literature on youth ethics that has been developed based on more traditional settings.
Within the context of a developmental psychopathology model emphasizing person-context transactions across the life span, adjustment disturbances among youth in upper-class suburbia are discussed. Potential reasons for these problems, involving achievement pressure and disconnection from parents, are explored.
Virtual worlds are online graphical environments that are becoming an increasingly large part of the online experience of young people. Virtual worlds have the potential to become one additional environment, like school, home, and the playground, where youth can learn, play, and grow. The physical world is becoming interconnected with virtual worlds, and it is important for researchers to understand how this will affect children's development. Virtual worlds technologies provide a unique opportunity to allow youth to explore many types of content creation, including customizable avatars, media galleries, and virtual representations of personal spaces. This ability for youth to create content can be an important means by which to support and encourage adolescent identity development.
Search Institute's integrated program of research on the linkages among community, developmental assets, and health outcomes is discussed. Recommendations are made for building a science that is dedicated to exploring pathways to developmental success.
An analysis is presented of the longitudinal stability over the course of a year of characteristics of positive functioning and of individual and ecological developmental assets, among African American male youth involved in gangs or in community-based organizations (CBOs) serving youth. Evidence is provided for the potential of positive youth development among both groups of adolescents.
This chapter outlines mobile phone use among African (particularly South African) adolescents. With an estimated 350 million active mobile phone subscriptions, improving network infrastructure, low-cost Internet-ready handsets, innovative programs and applications, mobiles in Africa, and their increasingly younger, increasingly poorer, and increasingly savvy users have the potential to act as conduits for local and regional socially just change. This broad-based connectedness not only provides access to information, but also, and crucially, connects individuals and their social, intellectual, and financial capital. It may represent a powerful, transformative shift in a region where access to similar technologies was historically limited to a privileged few. In order to best leverage these developments and opportunities to promote socially just change, I argue that future mobile-based programs or initiatives in the region should be based in both contemporary developmental systems theory as well as current, popular mobile applications and services.
This article proposes a strategy for the use of out-of-school time for adolescents, illustrates this strategy in action in Chicago, and discusses the challenges it faces.
Far from being unthinking energies or irrational impulses that control or push people around, emotions are intricately connected to the way people perceive, understand, and think about the world. As such, emotions are also an inextricable part of people's moral lives. As people go about making moral judgments and decisions, they do not merely apply abstract principles in a detached manner. Their emotions-their loves and sympathies, angers and fears, grief and sadness, guilt and shame-are inseparable from how they make sense of and evaluate their own and others' actions, the way things are, and the ways things ought to be. While this is not to say that emotions have a privileged role in morality, it does mean that emotions cannot be reasonably sidelined from the study of people's moral lives. Thus, an important part of formulating a theory of moral development is to articulate a framework for capturing children's relevant emotional experiences in the context of morally laden events. Such a framework should also help us understand how these sometimes turbulent or bewildering experiences inform, enrich, and change children's thinking about what is right and wrong and about themselves as moral agents. This article considers the research on the relation between emotion and moral thinking, offers a perspective that aims to broaden and elaborate our understanding of the connections between emotion and morality in adolescence, and sets a new agenda for research on this topic.
Whereas traditional criminological theories treat juvenile delinquency largely as a reactive and expressive behavior that only seldom leads to specialized criminal offending or a criminal career, this article proposes an alternative classification of offenses that accounts for the difference between youthful reactive conduct and specialized criminality. It examines the effect of immigration on delinquency among juvenile Russians in Israel. In contrast to previous work that has examined the criminogenic effect of immigration without differentiating specific types of delinquency, this study investigates the immigration effect on eclectic as well as specialized delinquency. Based on survey data from face-to-face interviews with 910 immigrant youths from the former Soviet Union in Israel, the study finds important results regarding the integration of juvenile immigrants in modern societies. In contrast to the assumption that assimilation in multicultural societies represents a safe way for social adaptation and to prevent specific kinds of violent behavior, the authors find empirical support for a more sophisticated approach. Furthermore, the results underline the importance in differentiating between distinct forms of violence.
Top-cited authors
Tara Marie Brown
  • University of Maryland, College Park
Clement Chau
  • LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.
Josh Sheldon
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Eric Klopfer
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Renée Spencer
  • Boston University