Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs. The Convergence of Approaches


Youth development practitioners, the policy community, and prevention scientists have reached the same conclusions about promoting better outcomes for youth. They call for expanding programs beyond a single problem behavior focus, and considering program effects on a range of positive and problem behaviors. Prevention science provides empirical support for this position through substantial evidence that many youth outcomes are affected by the same risk and protective factors. These groups are also calling for interventions that involve several social domains. The evidence that risk and protective factors are found across family, peer, school, and community environments supports this approach. Both positive youth development advocates and prevention scientists now encourage attention to the importance of social and environmental factors that affect youths' accomplishments of the developmental tasks they face. This convergence in thinking has been recognized in forums of researchers, practitioners and government representatives on youth development (e.g., The National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council, 1996).