Youth Development, Developmental Assets, and Public Policy

1 Answer
Utkarsh Shukla

Young people are the future of our society, and it is essential that we prioritize their development. Much of this work falls to public policymakers, who must create social and economic conditions that foster healthy youth development. One powerful tool for achieving this is the concept of developmental assets, a framework of protective factors designed to support young people in their journey toward self-efficacy and successful adulthood.

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The Importance of Youth Development and Developmental Assets

As a society, we have long recognized the importance of investing in our youth and fostering a healthy, supportive environment in which young people can grow and thrive. But these efforts are often too narrowly focused, largely ignoring the concept of youth development and failing to see how critical developmental assets can be in a young person's life.

Developmental assets are positive factors that influence a young person's growth, ranging from external assets like support systems and constructive use of time to internal assets such as commitment to learning and responsibility. Studies have shown that these assets are essential to a young person's academic progress, emotional health, and overall well-being. Here are some key benefits associated with developing strong developmental assets −

  • Improved life satisfaction and resilience

  • Reduced risk for substance abuse, teen pregnancy, dropping out of school, violence, or criminal activity

  • Increased academic achievement

  • More positive relationships with peers and adults

  • Enhanced pro-social skills and personal efficacy

Components of Positive Youth Development: The 5 Cs

When talking about nurturing positive development in young people, we must be aware of the five essential components of positive youth development (PYD). These are also known as the ‘five Cs’: competence, confidence, connection, Character, and contribution.

Let's take a look at each one of these components −

  • Competence − This encompasses physical, cognitive, and social abilities like communication and problem-solving. It's important that young people feel competent and able to learn new skills in order to reach their goals.

  • Confidence − Self-esteem is an integral part of PYD, allowing young people to trust their own judgment and take responsibility for their decisions.

  • Connection − Connections with family members, peers, mentors, and teachers are essential for PYD. It is also important for young people to feel included in their community and engage in the activities available to them.

  • Contribution − Young people should understand the importance of citizenship and ethical decision-making as part of making a contribution to society.

  • Character − Good moral judgment is crucial for PYD; developing strong values that can guide the choices they make throughout life.

How Developmental Assets Support Youth Development

One of the most important aspects of youth development is building key skills and competencies that enable children and teens to make informed decisions for themselves and lead healthy, secure lives. Developmental assets provide the framework for this kind of growth. So, what are developmental assets? They are essentially "positive influences" in young people’s lives, which come from internal sources such as personal qualities, values, and beliefs and external sources such as family, schools, religious communities, community organisations, peer groups, and society at large.

  • Supportive Environments − Supportive environments promote the physical and emotional safety of young people. Examples include ensuring an appropriate learning climate in schools where everyone is respected equally and providing resources for children in poverty-stricken areas.

  • Empowerment − Empowerment interventions seek to increase young people's sense of control over their own lives by providing opportunities to influence decision-making processes at multiple levels.

  • Positive Relationships − Positive relationships are fundamental to healthy development, they help foster feelings of security, trustworthiness and shared responsibility within a community. Examples include mentoring programs that provide guidance from adults or peers who serve as role models for positive behavior and achievement.

Public Policy: Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports

The scheme's definition of Youth and Adolescents would be as stated in the current National Youth Policy. In other words, under the system, the term 'youth' would refer to those aged 13 to 35, while 'adolescent' would refer to people aged 10 to 19.

  • The Rajiv Gandhi Adventure Scheme is being established to integrate and standardize adventure activities for youth performed by various organizations/institutions with financial help from the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports.

  • National Programme for the Development of Adolescent Youth (NPYAD): The scheme's short-term aims are as follows −

    • Provide opportunities for holistic development of kids, particularly adolescents, in order for them to reach their full potential.

    • Foster the spirit of adventure, risk-taking, teamwork, and the capacity of ready and vital response to challenging situations and endurance among youth.

    • Promote national integration, and strengthen secular and eclectic outlooks through creative expressions by youth.

    • Foster the spirit of adventure, risk-taking, teamwork, and the capacity of ready and vital response to challenging situations and endurance among youth.

    • Recognize adolescents as a distinct sub-group of youth and address their needs while providing positive stimulation and a conducive environment for their overall development.

    • Encourage research and publication while promoting technical resource support, including developing information and databases on issues affecting youth and adolescents.

  • Adolescent Life Skills Development and Empowerment The key activities envisaged under this plan include education, counseling, career guidance, and residential camps. Both in-school and out-of-school teenagers are targeted.

Recommendations for Enhancing Youth Development Through Policy

First and foremost, policymakers need to devote more attention and resources to reducing the number of youth who lack essential developmental assets. According to the Search Institute, there are 40 assets that are crucial for overall youth development; however, not all adolescents have access to all of them. Thus, policies should be implemented that would help make sure access to these assets is available to all adolescents.

Enhancing Access to Developmental Assets

There are several ways in which the government can increase access to these vital developmental assets. Some of these include −

  • Funding initiatives that offer educational opportunities, such as after-school programmes, summer camps, and other activities that can help create connections within the community and with caring adults;

  • Providing incentives for businesses and institutions to provide mentorship programmes

  • Investing in mentorships by providing funding for community organisations that provide mentoring opportunities

  • Developing policy infrastructure that supports programmes that focus on promoting health and wellness;

  • Increasing the availability of mental health services in order to reduce stigma and increase accessibility

  • Establishing more wraparound social services that encompass a wide array of physical, mental, social, economic, and educational support systems

Need of Policy Making

Policy is a real demonstration and statement that a country directs/gives for its citizens' growth.We will then look at examples of national youth policies that specifically represent a gender-inclusive statement that encapsulates the elements of vision, framework, and realistic guidelines from which strategies and initiatives to facilitate meaningful youth participation and development within a country can be developed.

This is likewise true in the case of adolescents. Policy refers to the guiding principles for planning and implementing activities related to youth or adolescent development. Policy demonstrates the nation's commitment to its future generations.


Youth development and developmental assets are crucial for the successful development of young people and should be prioritized in public policy. Consequently, policy reforms should be implemented to ensure all young people have access to the foundation pieces they need to lead successful lives. This includes providing families with the resources they need to thrive and building the social and cultural capital of young people in their local communities.

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