Developmental assets: There are 40 … do your kids have them?

16 years ago

    Are you concerned about your own kids, your neighbors’ kids, students in your classrooms, the youth in your congregation and youth in general? What if I told you the secret to raising happy, healthy, and responsible adults isn’t really a secret at all. It is simply stated all about building relationships, connecting with young people: Get to know them, talk to them, understand them, and help them. Supportive and caring adults are the key to positive change for youth. When the people and places of the community make a commitment to join together to embrace, invest in and engage with youth as both gifts and resources for today and into the future change happens. All kids are our kids … today is the day for change.
    Here are the facts: Research from Search Institute identifies 40 Developmental Assets that all young people need in their lives to succeed. The higher number of assets in children or teenagers lives, the fewer risky behaviors exhibited and the more likely they are to make wise decisions, choose positive paths, grow up competent, caring and responsible. Unfortunately according to Search Institute surveys the average young person has only 18 assets out of the 40 assets identified. The exciting news is anyone can build assets! It costs nothing, is not radical, experimental or theological.
Understanding Developmental Assets
    The eight asset categories Search Institute has found crucial in helping young people grow up healthy include:
• Support: Young people need to be surrounded by people who love, care for, appreciate, and accept them.
• Empowerment: Young people need to feel valued and valuable. This happens when youth feel safe and respected.
• Boundaries and Expectations: Young people need clear rules, consistent consequences for breaking rules, and encouragement to do their best.
• Constructive Use of Time: Young people need opportunities—outside of school—to learn and develop new skills and interests with other youth and adults.
• Commitment to Learning: Young people need a sense of the lasting importance of learning and a belief in their own abilities.
• Positive Values: Young people need to develop strong guiding values to help them make healthy life choices.
• Social Competencies: Young people need the skills to interact effectively with others, to make difficult decisions, and to cope with new situations.
• Positive Identity: Young people need to believe in their own self-worth and to feel they have control over the things that happen to them.
    Tips for building assets:
• Home/family: Regularly do things with your children.
• Neighborhood/community: Learn the names of youth neighbors.
• School/youth program: Plan asset-building activities as part of the curriculum/program.
    Want to know more about the 40 Developmental Assets and ideas for helping young people build them? Visit
    This article was brought to you by Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention. For more information about ASAP Clare Desrosiers, Project Director (521-2408), and for information about 40 Developmental Assets contact Allison Heidorn, Project Assistant (540-6772) or visit