An Assessment for our Future: An Investigation of the Presence of External Ecological Assets within Three Counties and One City in Southwest Virginia 6th Grade Youth
Problem: Prevention Planning Teams are challenged with developing intervention programs designed to decrease youth risk behaviors. Literature indicates that by increasing the number of assets/protective factors within a child's external ecology it decreases the likelihood of the youth participating in risk behaviors. Information which explicitly focuses on the etiology (external ecology) of youth risk behaviors for Southwest Virginia Region (SWVAR) 6th grade youth had not been performed; therefore, this study investigated the reported external ecology present in the SWVAR 6th grade youth, whether there are differences in the reported external ecology by gender, and whether there are differences in the reported external ecology by race/ethnicity.
Methods: The SWVAR 2009-2010 6th grade Youth Risk Behavior Surveys were analyzed and items extracted which pertained to the Search Institute Developmental Assets Framework. Twelve survey items were identified which fit into the External Asset Building Block areas of Support, Empowerment, and Boundaries and Expectations. Responses to these items by SWVAR 6th grade youth who participated in the 2009-2010 YRBS (n=2051) were analyzed via descriptive statistics for overall responses and Chi-Square in relation to gender and race/ethnicity.
Results: Descriptive statistics and Chi-Square analysis indicated an overall positive external ecology. There were however statistically significant differences by gender and race/ethnicity in each of the represented External Asset Building Blocks.
Conclusions: SWVAR 6th grade youth who participated in the 2009-2010 YRBS indicated an overall positive external ecology by overall responses, gender and race/ethnicity. There are however segments by gender and race/ethnicity which indicate a need for intervention and/or further investigation.