The Developmental Assets are 40 common sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible adults. Studies of more than 2.2 million young people consistently show that the more assets young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors and the more likely they are to thrive. Assets have power for all young people, regardless of their gender, economic status, family, or race/ethnicity, and are better predictors of high-risk involvement and thriving than poverty or being from a single-parent family.
The 40 Developmental Assets are broken down into groups, External and Internal Assets, and 8 categories as follows:
1. Family Support | Family life provides high levels of love and support.
2. Positive Family Communication | Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.
3. Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.
4. Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.
5. Caring School Climate | School provides a caring, encouraging environment.
6. Parent Involvement in Schooling | Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.
7. Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.
8. Youth as Resources | Young people are given useful roles in the community.
9. Service to Others | Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.
10. Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.
BOUNDARIES AND EXPECTATIONS
11. Family Boundaries | Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.
12. School Boundaries | School provides clear rules and consequences.
13. Neighborhood Boundaries | Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.
14. Adult Role Models | Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.
15. Positive Peer Influence | Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior.
16. High Expectations | Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.
CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME
17. Creative Activities | Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
18. Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.
19. Religious Community | Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.
20. Time at Home | Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.
COMMITMENT TO LEARNING
21. Achievement Motivation | Young person is motivated to do well in school.
22. School Engagement | Young person is actively engaged in learning.
23. Homework | Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.
24. Bonding to School | Young person cares about her or his school.
25. Reading for Pleasure | Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.
26. Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.
27. Equality and Social Justice | Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
28. Integrity | Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
29. Honesty | Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.”
30. Responsibility | Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.
31. Restraint | Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.
32. Planning and Decision Making | Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.
33. Interpersonal Competence | Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.
34. Cultural Competence | Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
35. Resistance Skills | Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.
36. Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.
37. Personal Power | Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.”
38. Self-Esteem | Young person reports having a high self-esteem.
39. Sense of Purpose | Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
40. Positive View of Personal Future | Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.
Here is a short list of skills that adults can develop to build the 40 Developmental Assets. They are organized around the eight categories of assets.
- Smile at young people.
- Learn the names of young people. Greet them when you see them.
- Ask young people about themselves and their interests. Listen to them.
- Invite young people to share their gifts and talents.
- If you sense that young people aren’t safe doing something or being in a certain area, intervene immediately to ensure their safety.
- Notice when young people are doing something right. Say something and encourage them to continue acting in similar ways.
Boundaries and Expectations Assets
- Know the boundaries for your organization that everyone agrees on.
- Enforce boundaries when you see an infraction. Instead of being harsh with young people, redirect them to a better activity or a better way of acting. Think of your enforcement as a teaching method.
- Talk and act in ways that you want young people to follow. You’re a role model, and young people are always watching and listening to you.
Constructive Use of Time Assets
- Ask young people about the activities they’re involved in and which ones they most enjoy.
- Make the time you spend with young people meaningful. Play with children. Talk with teens.
Commitment to Learning Assets
- Share your values of learning. Ask young people about school and whether they’re completing their homework.
- Ask young people to tell you about a good book they’ve read recently.
- Attend a school function for a young person, such as a play performance, a game, a recital, a concert, an open house. Connect with the young person so he or she knows you’re there.
Positive Values Assets
- Talk about the values you have with young people and why you have them.
- Own your mistakes. If you tell a white lie, admit it. If you were too tired to care, say so. Show young people that acting on values isn’t always easy and that admitting when you haven’t also is a positive value—integrity.
- Teach young people how to solve problems with the values they have.
Social Competencies Assets
- Break down skills into manageable steps for young people to learn. Being a friend means knowing how to listen, negotiate, express affection in appropriate ways, resolve conflicts peacefully, stand up for yourself, express anger in appropriate ways, ask for help.
- Notice when young people have skillfully stood up for themselves, resisted a dangerous situation, or asked for something they needed. Tell them what you admired about how they acted.
- Integrate skill building into your programs and activities.
Positive Identity Assets
- Compliment young people.
- Discuss how community and world events can influence a person’s outlook of the future. Talk about how to have a positive outlook when life gets difficult.
- Ask young people about their talents and abilities. Help them identify and strengthen them.
This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.
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