community programs are available in poorer neighborhoods (Halpern-Fisher et al., 1997). Access is also lower for minority youth and in rural areas (Carnegie Corporation of New York, 1992). Clearly more research is needed that takes the community as its focus.

There are lessons here for communities as well. They should not just sit back and assume that their youth are being taken care of. They need to actively assess whether there are opportunities for all youth and whether their range of programs provides good coverage of the eight features. This means they need to have someone or some agency that attends to the community menu of programs, who has responsibility for oversight and coordination, and perhaps even helps youth get connected to community programs that suit their needs and abilities.


Research demonstrates that certain features of the settings that adolescents experiences help facilitate positive development. Research on the settings of the family, schools, and the community supports the conclusion that daily settings are more likely to promote positive developmental assets if they provide:

  • Structure and limits that are developmentally appropriate and that recognize adolescents’ increasing social maturity and expertise;

  • Physical and psychological safety and security;

  • Opportunities to experience supportive relationships and to have good emotional and moral support;

  • Opportunities to feel a sense of belonging;

  • Opportunities to be exposed to positive morals, values, and positive social norms;

  • Opportunities to be efficacious, to do things that make a real difference and to play an active role in the organizations themselves;

  • Opportunities for skill building, including learning how to form close, durable human relations with peers that support and reinforce healthy behaviors, as well as to acquire the skills necessary for school success and successful transition into adulthood; and

  • Strong links between families, schools, and broader community resources.

Although there is limited research that specifies what community programs for youth can do to facilitate positive adolescent development,

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