Teenagers Need Positive Thinking – Not Negative Stereotyping

Monday, 21 March 2011

A new approach in the field of child and youth research, which involves working positively with teenagers, rather than focussing on negative connotations, will be discussed during a public lecture at NUI Galway on Wednesday, 23 March. According to Professor Richard Lerner, guest speaker at the event, we should reject the prevailing negative view of adolescents, which focuses on what they lack. Professor Lerner, who is Bergstrom Chair and Director of the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University in the US, claims most young people enjoy an affirmative experience of adolescence, are engaged positively with like minded peers, and supported in caring families with parents who they respect and love. With this in mind, he believes we need to change ways of thinking about adolescence and shift practice with them and our research about them to a strengths-based and assets-based approach. Challenging years of negative stereotyping of youth in the media and deficit thinking on young people in academic research, Professor Lerner has created an enormous body of research over the last four decades. His recent book, The Good Teen, offers a programme of Positive Youth Development. According to Dr Caroline Heary of the School of Psychology at NUI Galway: "Professor Lerner has really taken a fresh look at teenagers and takes a positive approach, rather than trying to 'fix' negative behaviour. In his book The Good Teen, he says positive outcomes can be had when the strengths of young people are aligned with resources for healthy development, such as families, schools and communities. He also puts great emphasis on the importance of sustained positive adult-youth relations, skill building activities, youth partnership and youth leadership." The lecture is sponsored by the PhD in Child and Youth Research which is a collaboration between NUI Galway and TCD, and is supported by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.  All are welcome to the event which takes place in Room MY243, Áras Moyola, NUI Galway at 6pm on Wednesday, 23 March.
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