Community Development and Youth


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“Community Development and Youth”

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Youth are faced with several transitions in their life including school to work, family home to living within a community, and post-secondary education. Youth should be able to make self-determined transitions with support from their families, community, agencies, and professionals since the transitions are part of their development. Part of the initial evidence manifesting youth development relates to their need to manifest changes and constructs related to their identity amidst their cognitive growth. Identity is a vital construct among youth because it refers to the manner in which individuals address issues and must do so trying to strike a balance between what the social constructs expect of them and what their cognitive abilities direct them to behave. The paper focuses on a psychological and social interdisciplinary approach of youth development, also known as the psychosocial approach of youth development. It covers different development stages among youth in a psychosocial approach.


A dilemma in developmental psychology has managed to bring together general concepts with research of a single youth in all his complexities in his day to day activities. Psychologists such as Burman and Morss have criticized approaches that research growth of youth from a functional view while sociologists such as Jenks, James and Prout has argued youth development study as the alternative to development psychology (Montgomery et,al. 2008). None of the approaches is sufficient enough to stand on its own, instead, it is important to formulate approaches of youth development that combine psychological aspects and the daily settings of an individual in regards to their social life. The paper focuses on a psychological and social interdisciplinary approach of youth development, also known as the psychosocial approach of youth development. The term psychosocial refers to the vast relationship between the psychological aspects of an individual in regards to their experience; meaning their emotions, behavior and thoughts and the wider social experience; meaning the relationships that exist in an individual’s life, be it family, professional networks, social values or cultural practices. Psychosocial development of youth lies in the idea that a combination of factors is responsible for the growth and development of these young individuals, these include the biological, cultural, social, mental and material aspects in one’s life.

Adolescence is a youth development stage characterized by fast, extensive and intensifying social and psychological changes, which tend to lead to development crisis that present challenges to a person’s coping abilities. According to Munley, (1975), establishment of a healthy relationship between the real world and the transition from childhood to adulthood is a step towards the development of a youth. At this stage, individuals develop and experience psychosocial changes. They face confusion over their sense of self which comes from their cognitive abilities and their quest to explore and fit in the society as part of their social development. An individual becomes overly aware of their appearance in front of others and tends to over identify themselves with certain groups of people. It is at this stage that if a young person is not able to achieve an identity by balancing both their psychological and cognitive considerations and the social pressure, then one ends up suffering from depression and could turn into adverse behavior to deal with the loneliness. For instance, young individuals at this stage want to dress in a certain way, behave in a certain way, achieve certain goals, they expect to receive love from the opposite sex and at the same time, they expect the society to support their decisions. A lot of cognitive and social changes witnessed must be tuned so that an individual can avoid being overwhelmed by all the pressure.

Another trait of youth development is marked by need of an individual to have an identity. Identity relates to oneself and can be divided into self-esteem and self-concept. Self-concept refers to how a youth views oneself, their goals, talents and life experiences. Self-concept also relates to one’s religion, ethnic affiliation and sexual identity groups. Self-esteem on the other hand deals with self-evaluation of one are worth. Erikson (1963) describes the psychosocial crisis at this stage as identity Vs. role confusion. Normally, at this youth stage, youth between the ages of 16 and 30 start to think about their occupational paths, and their roles into adulthood. At first, such youth experience role confusion in regards to their identity and how they fit in the society, these results to behavioral change with the aim of finding an identity and satisfying their psychological needs (Newman & Newman, (2017). Some manifest a change in their fashion others show rebellion towards their parents and guardians while others struggle to settle on a career, this is what Erikson refers to as identity crisis. Inadequate development of self-identity could lead to self-esteem issues among the young adults; this could in turn lead to substance use, poor academics and even suicide. Parents, churches and organizations dealing with youth should understand importance of commendation and acceptance at this stage to ensure individuals have a fully psychosocial development.

[bookmark: _gjdgxs]Positive youth development theory is also another psychosocial theory that gives an interdisciplinary approach towards youth development. The theory is different from others that focus on problems experienced by youth in their development stages; instead, it focuses in the capabilities and development potentials. According to (Lerner 2001), the theory states that youth development arises when the psychological aspirations are aligned with their social aspects and developmental assets. It motivates young people to make use of their potential and encourages them to seek help and support from the surrounding environment as well such as the school, community and peer groups. The theory shows consistency in its definition of youth development because it pays attention to core causes of certain behavior among youth and emphasizes on positive outcome of the youth in regards to their identity, personal development, and social development.

According to Papalia, Olds, & Feldman, (2007), youth development is also seen in romantic relationships among youth. These relationships start to emerge at later stage as opposed to same-sex friendships that exist during childhood. Although these relationships especially at this youthful stage are short lived rather than being long term commitments, their importance cannot be assumed. The youth spend a lot of time focusing on these relationships, and this in turn has a huge impact on their emotions in a positive and negative way. They forget about their family relationships and any other important relationships that are of help to their lives and put all their energy in the romantic relationships. These emotions have a huge impact on the mental well-being of individuals and high indulgence in temporary romantic relationships could lead to mental destabilization. Also during this development stage, other effects youth are likely to reap from their romantic relationships relate to early pregnancies, wrong usage of contraception, contracting diseases and this is common in the day to day life of most youths, such results have a direct effect on one’s psychological well-being and social well-being.

Youth stage is also characterized by growth of emotional and social competence. Emotional proficiency relates to ability of an individual to manage their emotions while social proficiency relates to the ability of a person to relate with the surrounding environment and people around him. During this stage individuals are more aware of identifying with their own feelings and the feeling of others. The rate of emotional and cognitive development is not parallel with physical maturity. The emotional-cognitive phase can make youths misinterpret their feelings and those of others. Parents and Guardians taking care of youths should be keen to ensure youths at this stage keep their emotions in check, since their emotional and cognitive have an effect in the way they relate to the people around them.


The youthful stage of all individuals should be characterized by struggle to gain self-identity and behave according to the society’s expectations. Self-identity is manifested as a youth tries to choose a career path, gain emotional stability, have stable romantic relationships, and struggle to maintain holistic personal growth. Societal pressure comes in when an individual is expected to do things in a certain way, and hit certain life marks within a specific time. The pressure, coupled with cognitive development could lead to youths engaging in risky behavior like substance abuse or engaging in irresponsible sexual behavior to try and remain invincible or to cope with the pressure and stress. Therefore, it is the responsibility of parents, organizations dealing with youth, teachers and religious leaders to support the youth in their development and assist them deal with self-identity issues at this stage of their life. The youth must also learn to balance all the relationships that require their time, attention and energy and must devise ways to maintain this balance without losing their sanity.

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Community Development and Youth. (2021, Oct 12). Retrieved December 3, 2022 , from

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