I see some action on the part of secular organizations to challenge school districts that adopt the 40 Developmental Assets list ( references here).

I had a copy of the list years ago and found it to be well balanced and not overtly religious. I like the idea of a list because, as a parent of more than one child, I have an interest in helping my children integrate into the society in which they find themselves (if that means anything).

I am wondering if there is any consensus in the secular community on what the key developmental assets should include. Where do I find such a list? I am also curious to hear whether these sorts of things are thinly-veiled agendas for cultural indoctrination. To my mind, there are several issues at play here and your responses/reactions will be shaped by your views on human development, your political philosophy, and your anti-theism.

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40 Developmental Assets for adolescents (ages 12-18)


Family Support | Family life provides high levels of love and support.

Positive Family Communication | Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parents.

Other Adult Relationships | Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults.

Caring Neighborhood | Young person experiences caring neighbors.

Caring School Climate | School provides a caring, encouraging environment.

Parent Involvement in Schooling | Parent(s) are actively involved in helping the child succeed in school.


Community Values Youth | Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth.

Youth as Resources | Young people are given useful roles in the community.

Service to Others | Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week.

Safety | Young person feels safe at home, school, and in the neighborhood.


Family Boundaries | Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts.

School Boundaries | School provides clear rules and consequences.

Neighborhood Boundaries | Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior.

Adult Role Models | Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior.

Positive Peer Influence | Young person's best friends model responsible behavior.

High Expectations | Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.


Creative Activities | Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.

Youth Programs | Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in community organizations.SHOW ME HOW TO TAKE ACTION
Religious Community | Young person spends one hour or more per week in activities in a religious institution.

Time at Home | Young person is out with friends "with nothing special to do" two or fewer nights per week.


Achievement Motivation | Young person is motivated to do well in school.

School Engagement | Young person is actively engaged in learning.

Homework | Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day.

Bonding to School | Young person cares about her or his school.

Reading for Pleasure | Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.


Caring | Young Person places high value on helping other people.

Equality and Social Justice | Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.

Integrity | Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs.

Honesty | Young person "tells the truth even when it is not easy."

Responsibility | Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility.

Restraint | Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.


Planning and Decision Making | Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices.

Interpersonal Competence | Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills.

Cultural Competence | Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds.

Resistance Skills | Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations.

Peaceful Conflict Resolution | Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.


Personal Power | Young person feels he or she has control over "things that happen to me."

Self-Esteem | Young person reports having a high self-esteem.

Sense of Purpose | Young person reports that "my life has a purpose."

Positive View of Personal Future | Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

This list is an educational tool. It is not intended to be nor is it appropriate as a scientific measure of the developmental assets of individuals.
Copyright © 1997, 2007 by Search Institute. All rights reserved. This chart may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial use only (with this copyright line).
Thanks, Kitty. I believe that this is the "religious" list that is being contested by anti-theists. I am interested in knowing if this list would pass atheist muster (as long as you omit the religious community line item). It seems that there are many "conformance" and behavior control items that would not sit well with many atheists. Things like sexual abstinence, not just hanging out with friends, resisting negative peer pressure (how do you define negative peer pressure as an atheist; resisting evangelicals?). I think that viewed in this frame, there is more religious orientation than might be seen at first. But is that to be avoided?
Jimmo wrote: "how do you define negative peer pressure as an atheist; resisting evangelicals?"

That's funny!

I think this list is fairly practical even where it is much more conservative than I would prefer. I don't agree with the age range. 12 - 18 is too broad. I also don't agree with the hours per week recommendations for various items. The restraint section is more cultural than anything else.




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