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.
Development programs involving youth are more effective. Positive youth development (PYD) programs provide youth with networks of supportive adults and opportunities for connectedness. 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.
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.
Schools and local education agencies can implement PYD programs in schools or connect students to programs in the community through linkage and referral.
Youth Advisory Councils
- Youth.gov. HHS Teen Pregnancy Prevention Evidence Review. This list of evidence-based teen pregnancy prevention programs includes positive youth development programs that can be implemented in school or community settings.
- Youth.gov. Positive Youth Development. This site compiles resources across federal agencies, including select programs and links to additional tools.
- Youth.gov. Service Learning. This site compiles resources across federal agencies on service learning programs.
- National Youth Leadership Council. K-12 Service-Learning Standards. This resource explains each of the standards for quality service learning programs.
- Act for Youth. Service-Learning and Adolescent Sexual Health. This resource provides an overview of service learning and its association with adolescent sexual health.
- Youth.gov. Mentoring. This site compiles resources across federal agencies on mentoring programs.
- National Mentoring Resource Center. Mentoring Program Reviews. This resource synthesizes evidence of effectiveness for specific mentoring programs in relation to a range of different outcomes.
- National Mentoring Resource Center. Resources for Mentoring Programs. This site provides resources for mentor training, program management, and recruitment and marketing, among other topics.
- CDC. Investing in Student Health: The Importance of Partnerships. This brief video provides an overview of CDC’s recommended approach to school health to reduce risk behaviors and improve academic performance. It describes how students can benefit when school districts invest in health education, health services, and safe and supportive school environments. It also encourages families, school health leaders, and community partners to support this investment in student health as an investment in the future.
- National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments. Family-School-Community Partnerships. This website provides information on the importance of establishing strong family-school-community partnerships.
- Gavin LE, Catalano RF, David-Ferdon C, Gloppen KM, Markham CM. A review of positive youth development programs that promote adolescent sexual and reproductive health. J Adolesc Health. 2010;46(3 Suppl):S75-91.
- Shepherd J, Kavanagh J, Picot J, et al. The effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of behavioural interventions for the prevention of sexually transmitted infections in young people aged 13-19: a systematic review and economic evaluation. Health Technol Assess. 2010;14(7):1-206, iii-iv.
- Bonell C, Hinds K, Dickson K, et al. What is positive youth development and how might it reduce substance use and violence? A systematic review and synthesis of theoretical literature. BMC Public Health. 2016;16:135.
- Catalano RF, Berglaund ML, Ryan JAM, Lonczak HS, Hawkins JD. Positive youth development in the United States: research findings on evaluations of positive youth development programs 1998;. Accessed August 2018.