What are they
In an effort to identify the elements of a strength-based approach to healthy development, the Search Institute developed the framework of developmental assets. This framework identifies 40 critical factors for young people's growth and development. When drawn together, the assets offer a set of benchmarks for positive child and adolescent development. The assets clearly show important roles that families, schools, congregations, neighborhoods, youth organizations, and others in communities play in shaping young people's lives. They provide a powerful framework and lense for how to engage with children, youth, families, and communities.
Through years of research in youth development, these assets have been researched and developed by Search Institute, an independent research and educational organization based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since 1989, Search Institute has measured developmental assets in more than one million 6th to 12th grade students in hundreds of communities throughout the United States. Their research has shown that when these assets are present, they help prevent negative behaviors, risk-taking, and help increase positive, thriving behaviors.
Assets are cumulative: the more youth have, the better. As the number of assets increases, so does a child's well-being. As a total framework for healthy growth and well being, assets give communities a set of benchmarks to measure the positive development of their children and youth - regardless of community size, geographic region, gender, family economics, race or ethnicity.
Prior to the research of Search Institute, social scientists had begun looking at youth research in a new way - they looked at those children and adolescents who were thriving and successful, rather than solely studying those who were stumbling or had become causalities in the difficult process of growing up. They realized that looking at strengths could teach important lessons regarding what helps young people navigate their way successfully through adolescence. Organizations such as Search Institute began asking, "What do all young people need to be competent, caring, responsible and resilient?" And the process had begun - of defining success for young people as something more than the absence of problems.
As they continued, Search Institute researched existing studies on children and youth and what began to emerge was a picture of commonalties among young people who had moved through the developmental process with a minimum of risk-taking behaviors and a maximum of thriving behaviors, indicating success, health and well-being as they moved into adulthood. From these many years of research, came the strength-based model of youth development that we know now as developmental assets.
For more information, visit the Search Institute at www.search-institute.org