Exhumator Esoterics

Encyclopedia of Spiritual — Letter A - ASSETS, DEVELOPMENTAL

Exhumator Esoterics
Exhumator Esoterics

Although there is increasing evidence that religion and spirituality can protect young people from problem behaviors, increase resilience, and promote thriving, the mechanisms underlying this association are unclear. The developmental assets framework offers a tool for exploring these links. Developed by Search Institute in the 1990s as a synthesis of research in adolescent development, prevention, resilience, and related fields, the framework identifies 40 experiences, relationships, opportunities, skills, and other qualities that form a foundation for healthy development.

External Assets


1. Family support
2. Positive family communication
3. Other adult relationships
4. Caring neighborhood
5. Caring school climate
6. Parent involvement in schooling


7. Community values youth
8. Youth as resources
9. Service to others
10. Safety

Boundaries and Expectations

11. Family boundaries
12. School boundaries
13. Neighborhood boundaries
14. Adult role models
15. Positive peer influence
16. High expectations

Constructive Use of Time

17. Creative activities
18. Youth programs
19. Religious community
20. Time at home

Internal Assets

Commitment to Learning

21. Achievement motivation
22. School engagement
23. Homework
24. Bonding to school
25. Reading for pleasure

Positive Values

26. Caring
27. Equality and social justice
28. Integrity
29. Honesty
30. Responsibility
31. Restraint

Social Competencies

32. Planning and decision making
33. Interpersonal competence
34. Cultural competence
35. Resistance skills
36. Peaceful conflict resolution

Positive Identity

37. Personal power
38. Self-esteem
39. Sense of purpose
40. Positive view of personal future

Studies of adolescents across North America show that developmental assets are a powerful predictor of their health and well-being, regardless of their race or ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or gender. The more assets that young people have, the less likely they are to engage in a wide range of high-risk behaviors (e.g., substance use, violence, and antisocial behavior), and the more likely they are to engage in thriving behaviors (e.g., valuing diversity, exhibiting leadership, and serving others). In addition, developmental assets are associated with religious and spiritual development on conceptual, empirical, and application levels.


In addition to the obvious connection to the religious community asset (#19), the connections between developmental assets and spiritual development are evident when one recognizes spiritual development as involving a search for connectedness, meaning, purpose, and contribution. Explicitly relevant assets include (see Table 1 service to others (9), caring (26), equality and social justice (27), sense of purpose (39), and positive view of personal future (40).


Religious adolescents report consistently higher access to developmental assets, engage in fewer risk behaviors, and report higher levels of thriving indicators. Adolescents who are active in a faith community have, on average, five more developmental assets than those who are not active. In addition, the more assets that young people experience, the greater the likelihood that they are to participate in religious community and to place high importance on religion and spirituality. It is likely that developmental assets mediate the influence of religion. This role may be explained in part by the consistent expectations to contribute and to maintain a positive moral lifestyle that are embedded within religious traditions and communities, the intergenerational and peer support that young people experience, and the sense of meaning and purpose that shape a positive identity and spiritual life.


In addition to its role in examining the relationship between religion and spirituality and overall healthy development, the asset framework has been widely adopted as a tool to assist faith communities in understanding and strengthening their roles in nurturing young people's faith and spiritual lives in the context of overall healthy development. In addition to the pilot projects and resources developed by Search Institute to promote this application, a number of other organizations, such as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, have utilized the asset framework as a tool for strengthening their engagement with children, youth, and families.