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The End of the Beginning: Evidence and Absences Studying Positive Youth Development in a Global Context

Abstract

Relational developmental systems metatheory frames many contemporary models of human development, including two strengths-based approaches to enhancing the lives of diverse children and adolescents, the positive youth development (PYD) perspective and resilience science. Both approaches emphasize the potential for plasticity in human development, and the systematic changes that arise through mutually influential relations between the individual and the multiple, integrated levels of the dynamic developmental system. After discussing the similarities and differences in these two approaches, different models of PYD are discussed in relation to how descriptions, explanations, and attempts at optimizations of the development of diverse youth are enacted within these conceptions. The substantive and research challenges associated using PYD models to enhance the lives of diverse global youth are highlighted, and the implications for future PYD research in international settings, and specifically among poor youth developing within the majority world, are discussed.

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Funding for the present study was provided in part by grants from Compassion International and King Philanthropies.

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RML conceived of the study, participated in its design and coordination, and drafted the manuscript; JMT helped conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination and helped to draft and proof the manuscript; ED helped conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped proof the manuscript; GJG participated in the design and coordination of the study, and helped proof the manuscript; SG participated in the design and coordination of the study; JVL helped conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped proof the manuscript; PEK helped conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped proof the manuscript; KW participated in the design and coordination of the study; GI participated in the design and coordination of the study; ATRS helped conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped proof the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Jonathan M. Tirrell.

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The preparation of this article was supported in part by grants from Compassion International and King Philanthropies.

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Lerner, R.M., Tirrell, J.M., Dowling, E.M. et al. The End of the Beginning: Evidence and Absences Studying Positive Youth Development in a Global Context. Adolescent Res Rev 4, 1–14 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40894-018-0093-4

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Keywords

  • Relational developmental systems metatheory
  • Positive youth development
  • Resilience science
  • Majority-world youth
  • Youth programs
  • Compassion International