Youth are moving from a period of childhood in which they have things done for and to them, to a period of incrementally becoming more independent and self-reliant. The physical, social and psychological changes young people undergo can not only impact their behavior and how they interact with the world, but can also impact how the adults around them respond to this transformation. During this time of significant transition and increasing independence for youth, resources and systems for youth must be constructed in a developmentally appropriate approach. Understanding adolescence through a developmental lens: ● Guides adults towards supporting adolescents in ways that are developmentally appropriate, with an end goal of helping youth transition into adulthood successfully. ● Gives cause for the integration of a positive youth development approach into all the work we do with and on behalf of young people, as it meets young people where they are, and addresses the needs they have in meaningful and relevant ways.
The Evidence Base for Positive Youth Development Research demonstrates that youth with more developmental assets, such as positive family communication, caring school climate and sense of purpose, have reduced morbidity and better health outcomes. In addition, key protective factors such as connectedness to parents and family, connectedness to school and optimism, promote healthy youth behaviors and outcomes.
A variety of national organizations and initiatives are promoting the use of a PYD approach such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs and the National Association of City and County Health Officials.