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J Adolesc Health. 2002 Dec;31(6 Suppl):230-9.

Prevention science and positive youth development: competitive or cooperative frameworks?

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Social Development Research Group, School of Social Work, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington 98115, USA.



To examine the convergence in the critiques and recommendations for the future of programs to promote healthy development and prevent problem behaviors among children and adolescents.


A review of literature captures two streams of thought, those promoting positive youth development approaches to youth programming and those promoting prevention science approaches to youth programming.


Results suggest that advocates of positive youth development and prevention science have similar critiques of single-problem-focused prevention programs in the 1980s and early 1990s, and have similar recommendations for the future of youth programming. Further, review of data on youth development suggests that it is important to focus on risk and protection in preventing adolescent problems as well as in promoting positive youth development.


These results suggest that both youth development and prevention science approaches have grown from similar roots and make similar recommendations for the future of youth programming. Further, data on precursors suggest that focusing on promoting protection and reducing risk is likely to prevent problems and promote positive youth development. Yet advocates of these approaches often are at odds, suggesting that the approaches provide different paradigmatic approaches to youth programming. We conclude that cooperation between these two approaches would further progress in the field of youth programming.

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