The Five Cs of Positive Youth Development

In our theoretical discussions of the Five Cs (Lerner, 2004; Lerner et al., 2005, we have suggested that they may be latent constructs that capture the essence of to-be-developed indicators of the numerous mental, behavioral, and social relational elements that could comprise positive youth development (PYD). Initially proposed by Little (1993), these theoretical latent constructs were first discussed as Four Cs, i.e., competence, confidence, (positive social) connection, and character. Eccles and Gootman (2002), Roth and Brooks-Gunn (2003a, 2003b), and Lerner (2004) reviewed evidence from research and practice that converges in stressing the use of these Cs and potentially of a fifth C, caring (or compassion), in understanding the goals and outcomes of community-based programs aimed at enhancing youth development.

Derived from this literature, the current working definitions of these Cs are presented in Table 18.1. As explained below, these definitions frame the measurement model and the structural equation modeling procedures undertaken in the research on PYD we will discuss in this chapter.

Little (personal communication, March 2000) and Lerner (2004; Lerner et al., 2003a) have suggested that when these Five Cs are present in a young person there emerges a Sixth C, contribution.

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