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40 Developmental Assets

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 12:10 AM

Dear Saints;

Some of you might have noticed the column on the left side of this newsletter entitled, “Youth Issues”. It’s been there week after week for a long time now and, like all other repetitive statements, may have lost your interest and attention. While the column may not grab your attention any longer, I am certain that the message contained in it is highly relevant to you, your family, and your community. It is a brief overview of the positive relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities all kids need to grow into healthy and successful adults. These are referred to as “developmental assets” and are arranged into eight categories including four sets of “external assets” and four sets of “internal assets”. 

The four categories of external assets are identified as “support”, “empowerment”, “boundaries and expectations”, and “constructive use of time”. Notice that each category contains several descriptive statements to define the “assets” included in that particular category. For example, the support category lists six assets as family support, family communication, other adult relationships, caring neighborhood, caring school, and parent involvement in school. Likewise, the other three categories contain a list of “assets” describing a total of 20 external developmental assets needed by each child to grow up healthy.

The four categories of internal assets include commitment to learning, positive values, social competencies, and positive identity. Like the categories of external assets these four categories also contain a list descriptive statements or “assets” children need to develop. A total of 20 “internal assets” added to the 20 “external assets” provide a fairly comprehensive list of positive relationships, opportunities, and personal qualities necessary for kids to succeed in their growth into healthy adults. These are known as the “40 developmental assets” identified and used by the Search Institute to conduct research on the growth and development of children in our culture.

While the research findings of the Search Institute are amazing, they are not new. They indicate that the more “assets” each child has while growing up, the less likely they are to engage in “at-risk” behaviors such as drug abuse, premarital sex, school violence, and truancy. Less than 5% of kids having 30 or more of these assets engage in any of the risky behaviors while over 70% of kids having less than 10 developmental assets are engaged in a variety of risky behaviors. These findings suggest the best way to reduce the likelihood that children will get involved with harmful and risky activities is to “build assets” in their lives. What Search Institute has identified as “building developmental assets” is simply a more detailed and concrete description of how we can actually love our kids. Their findings provide scientific evidence that not only do kids desperately need our love, but that they blossom in it.

While the Bible places responsibility on fathers for raising their children, the job is not restricted to just them or their wives for that matter. It is the responsibility of all believers as a part of fulfilling the new commandment Jesus left us with to love others as he does. The opportunities, relationships, and personal qualities described in the 40 developmental assets needed by all children are not difficult to build in and for our kids. There is no special training or education required. All that is needed is a willing heart by those who want to love them like Jesus. Ask God to make you aware of these “building blocks” for healthy kids and the grace to build some assets in them. 

John

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