What do the daily settings and experiences of adolescents need to include in order to promote the acquisition of these assets and function as a positive developmental setting? Based on theories of positive development and empirical research on features of settings, the committee developed a list of eight features of settings that promote adolescent development: physical and psychological safety; appropriate structure; supportive relationships; opportunities to belong; positive social norms; support for efficacy and mattering; opportunities for skill building; and opportunities for integration among family, schools, and community efforts. Research shows that the more settings that adolescents experience reflecting these features, the more likely they are to acquire the personal and social assets linked to both current and future well-being.
There are a variety of settings in which adolescents’ can experience the opportunities needed for positive development. Young people need continuous exposure to positive experiences, settings, and people, as well as abundant opportunities to refine their life skills so that they have the means to move into productive jobs and other roles that build fulfilling relationships. Some youth live in families and neighborhoods that ensure these experiences; others live in environments in which community programs are necessary to ensure them.