05 SES 09 A, Positive Youth Development and Second Chance Education
Anxiety is by definition a combination of cognitive (e.g., worries), physiological (e.g., nausea), emotional (e.g., fear) and behavioural responses (e.g., avoidance) (Silverman & Treffers, 2001). Even though anxiety is common throughout the development and a part of everyday life, it becomes problematic when it is persistent, frequent and severe enough to restrain an individual in their everyday functioning (Weems & Stickle, 2005). Difficulties related to anxiety are one of the most frequent psychological challenges in childhood and adolescence (Neil & Christensen, 2009) and are related to numerous short- and long-term negative outcomes. For instance, high levels of anxiety interfere significantly with children’s and adolescent’s adaptive functioning, social competence and social adjustment (Schwartz, Hopmeyer, Gorman, Nakamoto, & McKay, 2006), and when present in childhood anxiety may follow a chronic course with long-lasting effects (Ialongo, Edelsohn, Werthamer-Larsson, Crockett & Kellam, 1996). There is a documented increase in anxiety in Slovenia (Kozina, 2014) and in USA (Twenge, 2000) that calls for immediate prevention and intervention measures. One perspective that these measures can be anchored in is Positive youth development (PYD). PYD, which is embedded in the relational development systems model (Overton, 2015) emphasizes the potential of the individual to contribute to the development of self and society (Lerner, 2007). Core elements of the PYD model are the 5Cs of competence (internal sense of positive self-worth and self-efficacy), confidence (positive view of one’s actions in specific domains), connection (positive reciprocal bonds an adolescent has with people and institutions), character (possession of standards for correct behaviour with respect to societal and cultural norms) and caring (sense of sympathy and empathy for others) (Lerner, 2007). A large body of evidence has consistently shown that each component of the 5Cs is positively related to adolescent’s contribution to self, family and society as well as negatively related to risky behaviours and emotional difficulties, such as anxiety and depression. Thus, the PYD model shows potential to be used as a prevention model. In the present study, 1) we examined associations between anxiety and each of the 5Csin a convenience sample of adolescents in Slovenia, Spain and Portugal and 2) we analysed the predictive power of the 5Cs for anxiety for each country.
In the study we used: (i) a convenience sample of Slovene adolescents (n = 449) aged between 15 and 23 (Mage=17.10 years) enrolled in upper secondary schools; (ii) a sample of Portuguese adolescents (n = 2700, Mage= 21.30 years) and (iii) a sample of adolescents in Spain (n = 768, Mage= 19.50 years). While we used different measures of anxiety in the different countries, the same PYD questionnaire was used in all three countries. The PYD questionnaire (Geldof et al., 2013) consists of 34 items answered on a 5-point Likert scale (with responses ranging from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree). The items measure the 5Cs: competence, confidence, caring, character, and connection. The questionnaire has proven to be psychometrically adequate with a Slovenian sample (reliability coefficients: .78 (competence); .82 (confidence); .74 (character); .91 (caring); .81 (connection) (Gonzalez, Kozina, & Wiium, 2017). AN-UD anxiety scale (Kozina, 2012) measures general anxiety and three anxiety components with 14 self-report items: emotions, worries and decisions. On the scale, students indicated how frequent they had experienced these anxiety types (1 = never, 2 = rarely, 3 = sometimes, 4 = often, 5 = always). The scale has proven to be psychometrically appropriate with a Slovenian sample (reliability: .702 < α > .839; sensitivity: raverage = 0.600; validity: rANUD-STAI-X2 = 0.420). The Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (Salvador et al., 2015), which was used in the Portuguese sample, is a self-report questionnaire assessing the dimensions of anxiety in children and adolescents aged 8–19 years. It consists of 39 items measuring 4 dimensions: physical symptoms, harm avoidance, social anxiety, and separation anxiety. Respondents rated each of the items using a 4-point scale anchored with the response options: 0 (never true about me), 1 (rarely true about me), 2 (sometimes true about me), and 3 (often true about me). GAD-7 Generalized Anxiety Disorder Scale (Lowe et al., 2008) is a practical self-report anxiety questionnaire that consists of 7 items with adequate internal consistency (α = 0.89) and validity tests (intercorrelations with the PHQ-2 and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale were r = 0.64 (p < 0.001) and r = -0.43 (p < 0.001), respectively).
In the present paper, Positive Youth Development (PYD) perspective (Lerner, 2007; Lerner 2017) was used as a framework for an in-depth understanding of the relationship between the 5Cs (competence, confidence, character, caring and connection) and anxiety among Slovenian, Spanish and Portuguese adolescents. The results indicate that confidence and connection were protective factors in all three contexts while caring was only a protective factor in Portugal. In Slovenia and Spain, caring was a positive predictor of anxiety. The effects vary across countries making the context even more important. Based on the findings we would support competence and connection propomotion in all three context but woudl advise care when it comes to caring. A positive association was observed between anxiety and caring in Slovenia and Spain, indicating that high levels of caring are related to high anxiety. These findings were unexpected but nevertheless aligned with earlier studies (Geldhof, Bowers, Mueller, et al., 2014; Holsen, Geldhof, Larsen, & Aardal, 2017) that have observed ambivalent associations in which caring has been positively associated with both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes. Concerning, implications for practice within an educational framework for adolescents and youth, the findings can inform programmes targeting the 5Cs with the aim of decreasing risky behaviours and emotional difficulties. In that matter, the current findings based on the three measures of anxiety and the PYD questionnaire, raise the question of optimal as oppose to maximal levels of the 5Cs in the promotion of positive outcomes and the prevention of negative development.
Geldof, G. J., Bowers, E. P., Boyd, M. J., Mueller, M. K., Napolitano, C. M., ... & Lerner, R. M. (2013). Creation of short and very short measures of the five Cs of positive youth development. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 24, 163–176. Gonzalez, J. M., Kozina, A., & Wiium, N. (2017). Short-form measure of positive youth development: Psychometrics and preliminary findings in Slovenia. Paper presented at the European Congress of Developmental Psychology, Utrecht, the Netherlands. Kozina, A, (2012). The LAOM Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for measuring anxiety in children and adolescents: Addressing the psychometric properties of the scale. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 30, 264–273. Kozina, A. (2014). Developmental and time-related trends of anxiety from childhood to early adolescence: two-wave cohort study. European Journal of Developmental Psychology, 11(5), 546–559. Lerner, R. M. (2007). The good teen. New York: The Stonesong Press. Löwe, B., Decker, O., Müller, S., Brähler, E., Schellberg, D., Herzog, W., & Herzberg, P. Y. (2008). Validation and standardization of the Generalized Anxiety Disorder Screener (GAD-7) in the general population. Medical care, 266–274. Ialongo, N., Edelsohn, G., Werthamer-Larsson, L., Crockett, L., & Kellam, S. (1996). The course of aggression in first-grade children with and without co-morbid anxious symptoms. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 24, 445–456. Overton, W. F. (2015). Processes, relations, and relational‐developmental‐systems (1–54). Handbook of child psychology and developmental science. Neil, A. L., & Christensen, H. (2009). Efficacy and effectiveness of school-based prevention and early intervention programs for anxiety. Clinical Psychology Review, 29, 208–215. Schwartz, D.J., Hopmeyer, Gorman A., Nakamoto, & McKay, T. (2006). Popularity, social acceptance, and aggression in adolescent peer groups: Links with academic performance and school attendance. Developmental Psychology, 42, 1116–1127. Salvador, M., Matos, A., Oliveira, S., March, J., Arnarson, E., Carey, S., & Craighead, E. (2017). The Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children (MASC): Psychometric Properties and Confirmatory Factor Analysis in a Sample of Portuguese Adolescents. Revista Iberoamericana d Diagnóstico y Evaluación, 45(3), 33-46. doi.org/10.21865/RIDEP45.3.03 Silverman, W. K., & Treffers, P. D. A. (2001). Anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. Research, assessment and intervention. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. Weems, C. F., & Stickle, T. R. (2005). Anxiety disorders in childhood: Casting a nomological net. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 8, 107–134. Twenge, J. M. (2000). The age of anxiety? The birth cohort change in anxiety and neuroticis. Journal of personality and social psychology, 79, 1007–1021.
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