To advance basic knowledge and the applications aimed at enhancing youth development, scholarship should be directed toward elucidating the developmental course of diverse adolescents and how their individual and ecological strengths—and those of families and communities—result in healthy, positive development. Policies and programs must be aimed not only at the amelioration or prevention of problems; rather, actions must be directed toward promoting positive youth development (Lerner, Fisher, & Weinberg, 2000).
The stereotype that there is only one type of pathway across adolescence is not viable in the face of current knowledge about adolescent diversity. In future research and applications, scholars and practitioners must extend their conception of adolescence to focus on changing relations between individual youth characteristics and their distinct ecologies. Understanding these relations may enable the strengths of all young people to be translated into actions, resulting in successful contributions to self, family, community, and civil society.
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Richard M. Lerner AidaB. Balsano Deborah L. Bobek Tufts University
See also: Contextualism; Individual Differences; Peer Influences
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