Darien To Survey Teen Attitudes And Behaviors

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Previous Youth Asset Surveys have led to actions such as the creation of the Youth Asset Team, a group of students who work to promote positive behaviors in students.
Previous Youth Asset Surveys have led to actions such as the creation of the Youth Asset Team, a group of students who work to promote positive behaviors in students. Photo Credit: Thriving Youth Darien

DARIEN, Conn. -- The Darien Thriving Youth Task Force is looking to conduct a survey of students this fall to measure their behaviors and see which resources they feel are available to them within the community.

The Youth Asset Survey is created by the Search Institute, and was conducted in Darien in 2008 and in 2011. The survey tracks 40 positive assets, and gauges whether students feel those assets are present in their schools and the community. The survey includes 20 external assets, such as family support, adult role models and positive peer influences, as well as 20 internal assets, such as motivation, self esteem and restraint.

"The data that we obtain from the survey is an invaluable tool to assess the strengths and weaknesses of our teens and adolescents. We use this data through our Thriving Youth Task Force to engage all sectors of our community in promoting healthy youth development," said Carrie Bernier, executive director of the Community Fund of Darien and member of the Thriving Youth Task Force. Previous programs have been implemented to build up assets that scored low on the survey. To create a more caring school environment, the town's Youth Asset Team sponsored breakfasts between students and faculty. To educate about restraint, the community hosted viewings of the movie "Haze."

The survey would be taken in November by students in Grades 7 through 12. Students take the survey anonymously, and parents have the option of opting out if they do not want their child to take it.

"We're not looking to grade each student, we're looking to collect data as a whole, and then measure the assets, measure the outcomes and be provided with information about the deficits as well so we can mobilize the community to address what these deficiencies may be and to increase what the assets are," said Alicia Sillars, the town's youth director.

The survey taken this year would be longer than previous surveys, and would ask more questions about risky behaviors, as well as thriving indicators.

"We want our kids certainly to go off to college not only with a good GPA, but we want to know that they can plan, make decisions, resist danger and handle all of those issues that they will face in college," said Martha Rhein, coordinator of Thriving Youth. "The more assets that youth have, as the Search Institute has shown with lengthy research, the less likely they are to engage in risky behaviors."

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