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Channing Bete Company and the Social Development Strategy

The mission of Channing Bete Company is "to strengthen individuals, families, and communities by reinforcing healthy behaviors and commitment to positive social values." To help accomplish this mission, Channing Bete Company offers tested, effective positive-youth-development products based on the Social Development Strategy (SDS). The SDS framework is based on longitudinal studies and more than 30 years of research undertaken by Dr. J. David Hawkins and Dr. Richard F. Catalano of the University of Washington. 

About the social development model and the Social Development Strategy

The social development model is a complete model of behavioral development that outlines pathways to both problem and positive behaviors. The SDS describes the pathway to healthy behaviors outlined in the social development model (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996).

Strengthening protective factors is fundamental to the SDS.

Protective factors are research-based predictors of positive youth development and healthy behaviors that buffer children’s exposure to risk factors. The SDS shows how three broad categories of protective factors -- healthy beliefs and clear standards, bonding, and individual characteristics -- work together to promote positive youth development and healthy behaviors (Hawkins, Catalano, & Arthur, 1995).

The SDS begins with a goal of healthy behaviors for all children and youth. In order for young people to develop healthy behaviors, adults must communicate healthy beliefs and clear standards for behavior to young people (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996).

Building Protection: The Social Development Strategy

Bonding (an attached, committed relationship) between a child and an adult who communicates healthy beliefs and clear standards motivates the child to follow healthy beliefs and clear standards. A child who forges a bond with an adult is less likely to threaten the relationship by violating the beliefs and standards held by the adult. Research has identified three conditions for bonding (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996):

  • First, children need developmentally appropriate opportunities for meaningful involvement with a positive social group (community, family, school, etc.) or individual.
  • Second, children need the emotional, cognitive, social, and behavioral skills to successfully take advantage of opportunities.
  • Third, children must be recognized for their involvement. Recognition sets up a reinforcing cycle in which children continue to look for opportunities, learn skills, and, as a result, receive recognition.

Three individual characteristics influence the conditions for bonding (Catalano & Hawkins, 1996):

  • A child with a positive social orientation is more likely to take advantage of opportunities for involvement and to develop the social skills to be successful in many situations.
  • A resilient child—one who bounces back easily from difficulties and frustration—may be more persistent in seeking opportunities and learning skills than a child who gives up easily.
  • A child with high intelligence may be given more opportunities and may find it easier to learn some skills.

In some cases, it may be possible for communities and adults to nurture young people's individual characteristics, so that those young people are more likely to build bonds with positive adults. However, not all young people are born with these individual characteristics. For those who aren't, it is especially important to provide the skills, opportunities, and recognition that will help them build bonds. Through the process of bonding, young people develop commitments to healthy beliefs and clear standards, and exhibit healthy behaviors.

The SDS framework is based on a review of more than 30 years of research.

Dr. Hawkins and Dr. Catalano of the University of Washington conducted systematic reviews of experimental and longitudinal studies to identify risk and protective factors that accurately predict behaviors (Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Catalano & Hawkins, 1996). They developed the social development model to explain how risk and protective factors interact to create pathways to both healthy behaviors and problem behaviors. The SDS, which describes the pathway to positive behaviors, is one element of the social development model.

The social development model has been rigorously tested in longitudinal studies and experimental trials. This research has shown that the social development model can accurately predict adolescent behavior (Catalano et al., 2003; Huang et al., 2001; Hawkins et al., 1999; Hawkins et al., 2001; Lonczak et al., 2001; Lonczak et al., 2002). 

Research shows that addressing protective factors and risk factors is key to bringing about positive youth development.

Research in the field of prevention science has found that the most effective methods for promoting positive youth development and preventing problem behaviors involve addressing both risk and protective factors (Hawkins, Arthur, & Catalano, 1995; Pollard, Hawkins, & Arthur, 1999; Sameroff et al., 1998).

For example, one study looked at the prevalence rates of problem behaviors among students reporting varying levels of risk and protection. The study found that, at the highest levels of risk, students reporting elevated levels of protection were less likely to engage in problem behaviors than students reporting the lowest level of protection.

This study also found that focusing on protective factors alone is not enough. Although students exposed to several protective factors were less likely to engage in problem behaviors than students exposed to few or no protective factors, prevalence rates of problem behaviors increased for all students as their exposure to risk increased (Pollard, Hawkins, & Arthur, 1999). 

Other research supports the finding that youth become more likely to engage in problem behaviors as their exposure to risk increases -- even when they experience high levels of protection. For example, Sameroff and colleagues (1998) found that resilient youth with strong problem-solving skills who lived in high-risk environments were more likely to engage in problem behaviors than youth without these protective characteristics who lived in low-risk environments.

A final study underscores the importance of addressing both risk and protective factors. From a sample of over 60,000 children, the study found fewer than 100 children in high-risk environments who also had high levels of protection. Furthermore, close to 0% of the children in low-risk environments had used marijuana or other illicit drugs within the past 30 days -- even when they were exposed to very few protective factors (Hawkins, Arthur, & Catalano, 1997). 

These data support three important conclusions:

  • It is difficult to develop high levels of protection in the face of high levels of risk.
  • Even when children are exposed to few protective factors, risk-reduction strategies can decrease problem behaviors.
  • Focusing on protective factors alone is usually not enough.

The SDS is part of a complete model of behavioral development (the social development model) that also specifies the role of research-based risk factors in adolescent problem behaviors. The importance of addressing both risk and protective factors to promote positive youth development is central to the social development model.

To learn more about Channing Bete Company's positive-youth-development programs based on the Social Development Strategy, click here!

Bibliography

Benson, P. L., Scales, P. C., Leffert, N., & Roehlkepartain, E. C. 1999. A fragile foundation: The state of developmental assets among American youth. Minneapolis: Search Institute.

Catalano, R. F., & Hawkins, J. D. 1996. The social development model: A theory of antisocial behavior. In J. D. Hawkins (ed.), Delinquency and crime: Current theories (pp. 149-97). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Catalano, R. F., Mazza, J. J., Harachi, T. W., Abbott, R. D., Haggerty, K. P., & Fleming, C. B. 2003. Raising healthy children through enhancing social development in elementary school: Results after 1.5 years. Journal of School Psychology 41:143-64.

Hawkins, J. D., Arthur, M. W., & Catalano, R. F. 1995. Preventing substance abuse. In M. Tonry & D. Farrington (eds.), Building a safer society: Strategic approaches to crime prevention, crime and justice: A review of research, vol. 19 (pp. 343-427). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hawkins, J. D., Arthur, M. W., & Catalano, R. F. 1997. Six-State Consortium for Prevention Needs Assessment Studies: Alcohol and other drugs. Final report submitted to SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP).

Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., Kosterman, R., Abbott, R., & Hill, K. G. 1999. Preventing adolescent health-risk behaviors by strengthening protection during childhood. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 153: 226-34.

Hawkins, J. D., Catalano, R. F., & Miller, J. Y. 1992. Risk and protective factors for alcohol and other drug problems in adolescence and early adulthood: Implications for substance abuse prevention. Psychological Bulletin 112 (1): 64-105.

Hawkins, J. D., Guo, J., Hill, K., Battin-Pearson, S., & Abbott, R. 2001. Long-term effects of the Seattle Social Development Intervention on school bonding trajectories. Applied Developmental Science 5(4): 225-36.

Huang, B., Kosterman, R., Catalano, R. F., Hawkins, J. D., & Abbott, R. D. 2001. Modeling mediation in the etiology of violent behavior in adolescence: A test of the social development model. Criminology 39: 75-107.

Lonczak, H. S., Abbott, R. D., Hawkins, J. D., Kosterman, R., & Catalano, R. F. 2002. Effects of the Seattle Social Development Project on sexual behavior, pregnancy, birth, and sexually transmitted disease outcomes by age 21 years. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine 156 (5): 438-47.

Lonczak, H. S., Huang, B., Catalano, R. F., Hawkins, J. D., Hill, K. G., Abbott, R. D., Ryan, J. A. M., & Kosterman, R. 2001. The social predictors of adolescent alcohol misuse: A test of the Social Development Model. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 62: 179-89.

Pollard, J. A., Hawkins, J. D., & Arthur, M. W. 1999. Risk and protection: Are both necessary to understand diverse behavioral outcomes in adolescence? Social Work Research 23 (3): 145-58.

Sameroff, A., Bartko, W. T., Baldwin, A., Baldwin, C., & Seifer, R. 1998. Family and social influences on the development of child competence. In M. Lewis & C. Feiring (eds.), Families, risk, and competence (pp. 161-85). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Scales, P. C., & Leffert, N. 1999. Developmental assets: A synthesis of the scientific research on adolescent development. Minneapolis: Search Institute.