Predicting positive youth development outcomes using the social development model
Many researchers and practitioners in the prevention field have been advocating for a shift in focus from programs designed solely to reduce problem behaviors toward programs that focus upon enhancing youth competency and positive development. Such advocates have provided recommendations for what they believe falls under the rubric of an assets-based approach and have gone so far as to evaluate existing programs for their adherence to such concepts (Catalano, et al., 1998). The aims of this dissertation all fall under the broader goal of providing empirical support to the positive youth development arena. This study is intended to provide evidence that could be used in ultimately coming to a clear consensus on what positive youth development constructs and outcomes are. It is also intended to contribute to our understanding of both: (1) the relationships of risk and protective factors with positive outcomes, and (2) comprehensive theoretical models that predict positive outcomes. Using a longitudinal data set collected for the Seattle Social Development Project, this study used structural equation modeling to examine the ability of the Social Development Model (Hawkins & Weis, 1985; Catalano & Hawkins, 1996) to predict positive outcome behaviors. Although an adequate model fit was achieved, only 2--8% of the total variance was explained for the positive outcome variables. Limitations of this study and implications are discussed.