Positive Youth Development in the United States: Research Findings on Evaluations of Positive Youth Development Programs. Social Domains


The Family Domain

Family interventions can be generally divided into programs that use parent training (e.g., Patterson et al., 1982) and programs that incorporate parent involvement (Davis & Tolan, 1993). Parent training programs usually teach strategies directly to adult caretakers of children, who are then expected to practice these with their children. Parent involvement usually brings families into the implementation of the intervention, either through events or activities, or other strategies that expose them to the principles behind the intervention their child receives. There is evidence that families need clear, comprehensible information on child development in order to produce desired outcomes (Andrews et al., 1995), as well as skills, techniques and strategies that correspond to effective family management practices (Hawkins & Catalano, 1990).

Decision Rules about Operationally Defining the Family Domain.  The family domain was defined in two ways in this study. A program received the designation "Family/Home" when the programs had a component directly working with parents and other family members that took place in families' homes. It received the designation "Family/Unit" when the intervention targeted some form of family involvement, but not necessarily in the home setting.

The School Domain

Many positive youth development approaches, ranging from skills training curricula for competence promotion to full-service schools (Dryfoos, 1994), are based in schools. Classroom-based social competence-promotion programs represent the most commonly implemented and evaluated school-based prevention approach (Bond & Compas, 1989; Dryfoos, 1990; Weissberg, Caplan & Harwood, 1991).

Decision Rules about Operationally Defining the School Domain.  School interventions include those with a component occurring in the school setting, and implemented by teachers, other school personnel, or external consultants who work in the school domain.

The Community Domain

Findings on the impact of community and neighborhood factors on youth development have led to calls for interventions that address these factors in youth programming (Hawkins, Catalano, et al., 1992; Weissberg & Greenberg, 1997). Community-based youth development interventions have grown increasingly important. The National Academy of Sciences, National Research Council (1996) noted that a new generation of neighborhood studies is underway, based on integrated, multi-disciplinary, life-span models of neighborhood effects.

Decision Rules about Operationally Defining the Community Domain. An intervention was defined as a community intervention if it operated outside the schools in the community or neighborhood in which the child and her family lived, or employed a community or neighborhood focused component as part of the intervention. Such interventions typically occurred in settings such as community centers, churches, service agencies, youth clubs, parks, or other public meeting places.