Research: Current Research

4-H Study of Positive Youth Development

About the Study

The 4-H Study of Positive Youth Development finished data collection and is undertaking final analysis of the data.

In this study, we longitudinally assessed across adolescence the key characteristics of positive youth development, that is the "5 Cs" of positive development -- competence, confidence, character, connection, and caring (or compassion).

The research also evaluates the impact on positive youth development of key ecological assets -- found in families, schools, and community-based programs, such as youth development (YD) programs. YD programs are marked by the "Big 3" characteristics of positive and sustained adult-youth relations; life skills-building activities for youth; and opportunities for youth participation in and leadership of valued community activities). We have found that YD programs are key assets in the promotion of PYD.

We have also found that the factors representing the "Five Cs" of PYD lead to a 6th C -- Contribution. Both PYD and participation in YD programs independently relate to contribution. In turn, longitudinally, PYD predicts both community contributions and lessened likelihood of risk/problem behaviors. For example, PYD in Grade 5 predicted higher youth contributions and lower risk behaviors and depression at Grade 6. However, the pattern of PYD across time indicates that both promotion of strengths and prevention of risks need to be undertaken when working with youth.

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