Search Institute is a research firm that focuses on the health and well-being of children. Since 1990, they have conducted landmark  research with over 3 million kids throughout the U.S. Over the course of this work they've identified four factors that impact the development of children. They've suggested benchmarks in each of the four, which when met, indicate that a child is truly thriving. Not just "not at risk" - but thriving, and equipped with the foundation they'll need to become happy, confident, responsible adults. 


The four factors and suggested benchmarks Search Institute used in this study as follows:

To better understand what is meant by

 "thriving"  vs. "not at risk" 

it helps to look in more detail at the first of these four categories,

the 40 Developmental Assets.

  • Integrity
  • Self-esteem
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Caring
  • Peaceful conflict resolution skills
  • Positive family communication
  • Caring school climates
  • Adult role models
  • Participation in creative activities
  • Peer Influence
20 external assets including:

For a full list of the 40 Developmental Assets and to learn more about Search Institute's work, use the following link: assets

These assets serve as an underpinning of sorts to the other three categories, in that the more of the 40 developmental assets a child has:

  1. The more resilient they are, minimizing the impact of any developmental deficits they experience

  2. The less likely they are to participate in high risk behaviors

  3. The more likely they are to engage in thriving behaviors



40 Developmental Assets Correlated to Negative Behaviors and Traits
40 Developmental Assets Correlated to Positive Behaviors and Traits

Figures based on 2003 survey of 150,000 6 -12 graders in 202 U.S. Communities 

6% of U.S. Children Surveyed Meet Thriving Benchmarks

The four categories Search Institute used in this study and their suggested benchmarks are as follows:

  20 internal assets including:

The data indicates a distinct correlation between the number of assets a child has and their participation in healthy vs. unhealthy behaviors. The more assets a child has, the less likely they are to participate in problem alcohol use, violence, illicit drug use, and sexual activity. Conversely, the more assets a child has, the more likely they are to exhibit leadership, maintain good health, value diversity and succeed in school.

 In their 2011 survey of over 89,000 youth in 26 states,

only 6% met the suggested benchmarks in all four categories.

 These 40 Developmental Assets Contist Of: