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Only 6% of 89,000 US Kids Surveyed Meet Search Institute’s Thriving Benchmarks.

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. They've identified four factors that impact the development of children, and have suggested benchmarks in each, which when met, indicate that a child is truly thriving. Not just "not at risk", but truly thriving, and equipped with the foundation they'll need to become happy, confident, responsible adults. In their 2011 survey of over 89,000 youths in 26 states, only 6% met the suggested benchmarks in all four categories.

Below is the summary data table:

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.

These 40 Developmental Assets Consist of:

20 internal assets including:



Interpersonal Skills


Peaceful conflict resolution skills

20 external assets including:

Positive family communication

Caring school climates

Adult role models

Participation in creative activities

Peer influence

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

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.

40 Developmental Assets Correlated to Positive Behaviors & Traits

40 Developmental Assets Correlated to Negative Behaviors & Traits

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

These survey results do not mean that 94% of tomorrow’s adults will be unhappy, unsuccessful, non-contributing members of our society. Many will find their way. Many will have had sufficient supports in childhood, to become relatively happy, successful, and contributing members of our society, some even reaching their full potential as adults. But do we really want to leave that to any more of a chance? Don't each of our individual children, and their combined future as the next generation of adults, deserve a more planful, intentional approach to parenting on our part?

How about if we flip those statistics? Imagine a generation of adults in which 94% of the children reaching adulthood arrive there ready to thrive - instead of 6%. Shouldn’t we all be working to help ensure that 94% of children come out of their childhood ready, willing, and able to play their "A game."

Parents more than any other single factor influence who their children are today and the adults they’ll become. Strong parenting skills are critical to the health and well-being of our own children, and the strength of future generations.

Our Starting Point is working to connect parents with local parenting education resources by developing a database of parenting education programs throughout the country that will be available on our website and searchable by zip code. In the meantime:

1. We are starting a conversation about the character traits we want our children and the next of generation of adults to have.

2. Please let us know the character traits you believe are important. Tweet, post, text, email, fax, or call. Do you want your children to have integrity, empathy, or resilience? Perhaps having a strong work ethic, or being responsible, respectful, faithful, or a life-long learner matter in your family. We will:

a. Compile your responses and share the list.

b. Provide weekly “Tuesday Tips” with ideas you can use to help develop those character traits.

3. If you’d like to find parenting education and support resources in your community, your schools’ guidance office, the local hospital, or town clerk may be able to provide some direction. If you have trouble finding resources in your community, please contact us and we will work to help you find those resources.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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

use the following link:

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