Providing opportunities for autonomy, taking responsibility, and challenge are likely to be especially important for older adolescents as they approach the transition to adulthood. Most of the programs reviewed in this chapter did not address opportunities for developing a sense of efficacy. More such programs were reviewed in Chapter 5. However, programs with a focus on skill acquisition, such as the Penn Prevention Program, do exemplify this characteristic because such learning opportunities, if implemented as discussed in Chapter 4, are the best settings in which to acquire a strong sense of personal efficacy. We talk more about this in the next section. Support for mattering was more clearly evident in the effective programs reviewed in this chapter. This feature was most evident in programs that provided opportunities to participate in community service. Two of the model programs, Quantum Opportunities and the Teen Outreach Program, were successful in involving high school students in community service, life and family skills training, and support in planning for college and jobs.
Opportunities for skill building were plentiful in the programs reviewed. An emphasis on social skills was a frequent program goal. Building skills in resisting peer influences to engage in a wide range of problem behaviors (such as unprotected sex, drinking and drug use, and illegal behaviors) was common in programs primarily focused on preventing such problems as drug and alcohol use, teen pregnancy, and HIV/AIDS (see program descriptions in Table 6–1 for ENABL, Life Skills Training, Project ALERT, Positive Youth Development Program). Also, many of the programs focusing specifically on the parent-youth relationship include activities to teach youth and parents better communication skills (e.g., the Adolescent Transitions Project, Creating Lasting Connections, Functional Family Therapy, Improving Social Awareness-Social Problem Solving, the Midwestern Prevention Project, the Social Competence Program for Young Adolescents, the Teen Outreach Program).
Other programs focus on individual cognitive, social, and emotional skill development. Some focus on such social and emotional skills as coping and self-regulation (Coping with Stress Course, Functional Family Therapy, the Penn Prevention Project). Others provided employment or economic management skills through part-time employment with