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Positive Youth Development

Richard F. Catalano and John W. Toumbourou

Subject Psychology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405161251.2009.x


In the twentieth century, childhood and adolescence have increasingly become regarded as special periods of development in which children were provided extra support to learn and develop. Programs that focus on enhancing positive youth development are part of the response to providing extra support. Early in the century a number of important changes emerged including universal education delaying the entry into the workforce, and later changes in conceptualization of school and community practices to support the family to raise healthy children. At mid-century federal funding initiatives began to address reducing juvenile crime, substance use, and academic failure through treatment and remedial programming. Prevention programs became part of the supports for childhood and adolescent development late in the twentieth century, with the first programs being trialed in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with the science of prevention being described in the 1990s. Many early prevention efforts were not based on child development theory or research and most failed to show positive impacts on youth problems including drug use, pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease, school failure, or delinquent behavior. Faced with early failures, prevention program developers became increasingly aligned with the science of behavior development and change and began designing program elements to address predictors ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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