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Letter: What Kids Need, Building Blocks for Children and Youth

The Juvenile Advocacy Group and the JAG Youth Council are community-based resources for Milford youth. In a letter, an organization leader writes about developmental assets children need to help them mature into responsible, successful adults.

Editor's Note: The following article was submitted by Amy Leone, of the Juvenile Advocacy Group.

What are Developmental Assets?

This year the and the will focus their community efforts on Developmental Assets. The Developmental Assets are 40 common-sense, positive experiences and qualities that help influence choices young people make and help them become caring, responsible, successful adults. Because of its basis in youth development, resiliency, and prevention research and its proven effectiveness, the Developmental Assets framework has become one of the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States.

Read the list of assets

Background on the Developmental Assets

Since its creation in 1990, Search Institute’s framework of Developmental Assets has become the most widely used approach to positive youth development in the United States. The assets are grounded in extensive research in youth development, resiliency, and prevention. They represent the relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities that young people need to avoid risks and to thrive.

The Power of Assets

The 40 Developmental Assets represent everyday wisdom about positive experiences and characteristics for young people. Search Institute research has found that these assets are powerful influences on adolescent behavior — both protecting young people from many different risky behaviors, and promoting positive attitudes and actions.

Who needs them? Why are they important?

Over time, 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. Research has proven that youth with the most assets are least likely to engage in four different patterns of high-risk behavior, including problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. The same kind of impact is evident with many other problem behaviors, including tobacco use, depression and attempted suicide, antisocial behavior, school problems, driving and alcohol, and gambling.

The positive power of assets is evident across all cultural and socioeconomic groups of youth, and there is also evidence that assets have the same kind of power for younger children. Furthermore, levels of assets are better predictors of high-risk involvement and thriving than poverty or being from a single-parent family. The average young person experiences fewer than half of the 40 assets, and boys experience an average of three fewer assets than girls.

How to get started building assets

There are many ways you can start building assets for the children and youth around you, whether they’re in your family, school, or community. This year JAG will work with the Search Institute in promotion of our marketing campaign “Where do I get that asset?” as well as monthly articles regarding developmental assets including resources you can use to create a better world for the kids in Milford.

These monthly asset will also be an aspect of the JAG Youth Council’s events throughout the year.

If you are interested in getting involved please feel free to contact Amy Leone at communityimpactinc@gmail.com or go to www.jagnetwork.org

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