Positive Youth Development

Positive youth development programs strengthen young people’s sense of identity, belief in the future, self-regulation, and self-efficacy as well as their social, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral competence.

Positive youth development (PYD) programs provide youth with networks of supportive adults. Unlike many prevention programs that focus solely on risk behaviors, PYD programs aim to develop and enhance positive characteristics of individuals and their surrounding context. By increasing protective factors rather than focusing on risk behaviors related to a single adverse outcome, PYD programs have benefits across a range of health and academic outcomes.

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Positive youth development programs have been found to be effective in reducing sexual risk behaviors, HIV, other STDs, and unintended pregnancy.

These programs also have the potential to prevent substance use and violence behaviors that contribute to HIV and other STD risk and are associated with improvements in academic performance.

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Schools and local education agencies can implement PYD programs in schools or connect students to programs in the community through linkage and referral.