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Research-Based Design

Youthhood is based upon research on healthy adolescent development, educational standards, and IDEA transition guidelines. The site carefully and intentionally seeks to meet the psycho-social and educational-emotional needs of all youth.

The following describes the philosophies and research studies upon which the Youthhood site is built.

Youth Development

Youth development is a process which prepares young people to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood through a coordinated, progressive series of activities and experiences which help them to become socially, morally, emotionally, physically, and cognitively competent (National Youth Development Center, n.d.). Positive youth development addresses the broader developmental needs of youth, in contrast to deficit-based models which focus solely on youth problems.

Youth development as an asset-building approach (Benson, 1995):

  • Focuses on the positive
  • Encourages youth to take personal responsibility for making a difference in their communities
  • Is proactive
  • Mobilizes the public, as well as all youth-serving organizations in a community
  • Views youth as a resource
  • Embraces a vision-building perspective
  • Encourages cooperation within a community
  • Unleashes the caring potential of citizens and organizations so that public resources can be focused on areas of greatest need
  • Hopes that change is possible

Raising Teens

A synthesis of research from the Harvard School of Public Health (Simpson, 2001) found ten tasks of adolescent development common to all youth. Youth must:

  • Adjust to sexually maturing bodies and feelings.
  • Develop and apply abstract thinking skills.
  • Develop and apply a more complex level of perspective taking.
  • Develop and apply new coping skills such as decision making, problem solving, and conflict resolution.
  • Identify meaningful moral standards, values, and belief systems.
  • Understand and express more complex emotional experiences.
  • Form friendships that are mutually close and supportive.
  • Establish key aspects of identity.
  • Meet the demands of increasingly mature roles and responsibilities.
  • Renegotiate relationships with adults in parenting roles.

From these ten tasks, five ways in which adults can support these adolescent developmental needs are suggested. These include:

  • love and connect;
  • monitor and observe;
  • guide and limit;
  • model and consult; and
  • provide and advocate (Simpson, 2001).

The Youthhood curriculum seeks to support youth in their developmental tasks and to engage adults as allies in this work. Youthhood promotes the concept of youth working hand-in-hand with adult mentors as they explore content, try activities, and pursue personal goals through use of the Life Map. The role of adults working with youth is to provide guidance, insight, support, and advocacy so that youth can make a successful transition from high school to postsecondary training, employment, and adult life.


Benson, P.L. (1995). Uniting communities for youth: Mobilizing all sectors to create a positive future. Minneapolis, MN: Search Institute.

National Youth Development Center. (n.d.). What is youth development? Retrieved March 2, 2005 from http://www.nydic.org/nydic/programming/whatis/index.htm

Simpson, A.R. (2001). Raising teens: A synthesis of research and a foundation for action. Boston: MA: Harvard School of Public Health, Center for Health Communication. Retrieved March 2, 2005 from http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/chc/parenting/raising.html

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