Positive Youth Development

Adopted March 1974 – Revised February 2018 – Health & Community Concerns Commission

California State PTA believes that every child should have the opportunity to become a self-respecting, contributing member of society.

While traditionally systems have focused on a reactive emphasis to delinquent behavior; more recent approaches have focused on

  • Decreasing risk factors that may increase the likelihood of problem behavior; and
  • Increasing protective factors such as personal characteristics and environmental conditions that decrease the likelihood of problem behavior.

California State PTA believes that communities should invest in programs that utilize effective “positive youth development” models that have locally-based strategies and expand opportunities for youth to participate in structured activities with adult supervision outside school hours. Positive youth development is defined as “an intentional, pro-social approach that engages youth within their communities, schools, organizations, peer groups, and families in a manner that is productive and constructive; recognizes, utilizes, and enhances young people’s strengths; and promotes positive outcomes for young people by providing opportunities, fostering positive relationships, and furnishing the support needed to build on their leadership strengths.”

Positive youth development exists in dynamic environments that build upon the strengths of and recognizes risk behaviors in adolescents. These environments include systems of support, such as peer or social networks, school, family, and community.

California State PTA believes that early intervention prevents the onset of delinquent behavior and supports the development of a youth’s assets and resilience.

When connecting youth to positive experiences, programs should include the following principles:

  • Be proactive in promoting protective factors in young people.
  • Complement efforts to prevent risky behaviors and attitudes in youth and support efforts that work to address negative behaviors.
  • Acknowledge and further develop or strengthen youth assets.
  • Enable youth to thrive and flourish and prepare them for a healthy, happy, and safe adulthood.
  • Involve, value, and encourage youth to participate in the design, delivery, and evaluation of the services. Programs are most effective when adults and youth work in partnership.
  • Instill leadership qualities and active participation in youth.
  • Encourage civic involvement and civic engagement so that youth contribute to their school and broader communities through service.
  • Involve and engage every element of the community – schools, homes, community members, and others.

California State PTA agrees with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention that the following types of school and community programs be employed:

  • Classroom and behavior management programs that address the highest priority problem areas, at appropriate developmental stages, and identify strengths (risk factors and protective factors) to which children in a particular community are exposed;
  • Social competence promotion curricula that offer comprehensive interventions across many systems, including health and education, and deal simultaneously with many aspects of juveniles’ lives;
  • Conflict resolution and violence prevention curricula that build on juveniles’ strengths and create opportunities for physical, social, mental and emotional development that fosters the expansion of positive self-esteem;
  • Comprehensive community interventions that utilize available programs through coordinated cooperative endeavors with law enforcement and social service agencies.

California State PTA believes that through a responsive network of community-based services the obstacles faced by our most vulnerable children and their families can be overcome, their needs can be met, and they can flourish as responsible, contributing members of society.



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