Positive youth development in the United States: Research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs.

APA PsycNet, June 2002
The past 30 yrs have seen widespread proliferation of prevention and positive youth development (PYD) programs. More recently, the field has witnessed a greater focus on evaluation of programs emphasizing PYD, the subject of the present study. Interest in PYD has grown as a result of studies that show the same individual, family, school, and community factors often predict both positive and negative outcomes for youth. Such factors as developing strong bonds with healthy adults and maintaining regular involvement in positive activities not only create a positive developmental pathway, but can prevent the occurrence of problems. While encouraging, these findings highlight the need for systematic review across programs to further their general acceptance by the field. Thus, the goals of the present study were to research and establish both theoretical and empirical definitions of PYD and related concepts; document and describe common denominators between risk and protective factors implicated in youth problem behavior; identify and summarize the results of evaluations of PYD interventions; and identify elements contributing to both the success and lack of success in PYD programs and program evaluations, as well as potential improvements in evaluation approaches.



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