OCY believes strongly in the Asset Model of youth development and bases its work around it. Assets are positive building blocks that youth need to grow up healthy, responsible, and caring. The Search Institute has identified 40 assets in categories that range from support, to constructive use of time, to social competencies.
Using assets is a way to look at where kids are without simply focusing on what’s going wrong. Assets looks at the positive needs youth have to do well.
A few examples of assets:
- Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support.
- Other adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more non-parent adults.
- Safety: Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.
- School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences.
- Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.
- School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning.
- Integrity: Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.
- Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.
- Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.”
For more on assets, see the Search Institute webpage at http://ww.search-institute.org/.
A Recent Asset Study: Grading Grown-ups on Assets
The Search Institute recently announced results of a study called Grading Grown-Ups that had surprising results. It found that American adults agree on what kids need from them, but most adults don’t act on these beliefs.
The study asked adults about 19 assets that youth need to thrive. At least 70% of adults believe 9 of the assets are “most important” in adult relationships with youth outside their own family. These assets include:
- encouraging success in school,
- teaching shared values,
- having meaningful conversations.
Despite the agreement on which assets young people need, “just one in 20 adults is actively engaged in promoting young people’s healthy development.” For example:
Though 70% of adults say it’s important to have meaningful conversations with young people, only 34% do.
While 77% of adults said it’s important to teach respect for cultural differences, only 36% of them do.
Dr. Peter Benson, co-author of the study, said that a variety of factors may feed this gap, including “conflicting priorities, lack of social pressure, negative images of young people, lack of neighborhood connections, work-related pressures, consumerism, and even lack of confidence.”
Are adults spending time with kids in our community? We want to know what you think. Come to our next Roundtable Discussion, where we’ll be talking about this issue as it relates to our own community.
Information for this story from the Search Institute. For more information on the study, see http://ww.search-institute.org/norms.