What Kids Need To Grow Up Well

(New York Times News Service)

A U.S. children's advocacy group says too many young people are growing up today ill-prepared to take their place in society.  Search Institute has surveyed 100,000 sixth to 12th-graders across the U.S. and found that the average young person has fewer that half of the 40 developmental assets necessary for healthy development.  These essential ingredient range from family support and a caring school environment to personal power and optimism about the future.

The Institute says the more 'developmental assets' young people have, the less likely they are to use drugs and alcohol, or to engage in sexual activity or violence.  Only eight per cent of the youth surveyed experienced at least 31 of the 40 assets.  The average young person experiences 18.

Here are the 40 assets listed by the Institute as crucial to a child's healthy development:

1. Family support

2. Positive family communication

3. Other adult relationships

4. Caring neighbourhood

5. Caring school climate

6. Parent involvement in schooling

7. A community that values youth

8. A useful role in the community

9. An hour or more of community service work per week

10. Feeling of safety at home, school and in neighbourhood

11. Clear rules and consequences at home

12. Clear rules and consequences at school

13. Neighbours who take responsibility for monitoring behaviour

14. Positive adult role models

15. Positive peer influence

16. High expectations from parents and teachers

17. Three or more hours a week in music, theatre or other arts

18. Three or more hours a week in sports, clubs or organizations

19. One or more hours a week in spiritual activities

20. Time at home, at least five nights a week

21. Motivation to do well in school

22. Actively engaged in learning

23. At least one hour of homework every school day

24. Cares about her or his school

25. Reads for pleasure at least three hours a week

26. Values helping others

27. Values equality and reducing hunger and poverty

28. Stands up for beliefs

29. Tells the truth even when it isn't easy

30. Accepts personal responsibility

31. Shows restraint from sexual activity, drugs and alcohol

32. Can plan ahead and make choices

33. Has empathy, sensitivity and friendship skills

34. Is comfortable with people of different backgrounds

35. Can resist negative peer pressure

36. Seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently

37. Sense of control over things

38. High self-esteem

39. Sense of purpose

40. Optimistic about the future