On kidsdata.org, indicators of community connectedness come from the California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS) through a partnership with WestEd, which developed and administers the CHKS, and the California Department of Education. These indicators, available by gender, grade (7th, 9th, and 11th, and non-traditional students), and race/ethnicity, include student reports of:
"Non-traditional" students are those enrolled in Community Day Schools or Continuation Education. According to EdSource, nearly 10% of public school students in California are enrolled in these programs.
Like home and school environments, communities can play a critical role in fostering resilience among children and youth. Resilience, the ability for youth to strive in the face of adversity, is associated with healthy development and the avoidance of risky behavior, such as abuse of alcohol and other drugs, early sexual activity, and suicidal thoughts/actions (1, 2). Research has identified three key factors that promote resilience in young people, thereby protecting them from risk and helping them succeed; all of these factors can be cultivated in community environments (1, 2, 3):
- Caring relationships with adults: Supportive connections to others who model and support healthy development and well being
- High expectations by adults: Consistent communication of direct and indirect messages that youth can and will succeed
- Opportunities for participation and contribution: Involvement of youth in relevant, engaging, and interesting activities with opportunities to contribute
For more information on community connectedness, see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.
Sources for this narrative:
- WestEd. (2010). California Healthy Kids Survey (CHKS): California School District Secondary School Survey Results Fall 2009/Spring 2010, Core Module A. Retrieved from “Core Narrative” at http://chks.wested.org/reports
- Bernat, D. H., & Resnick, M. D. (2006). Healthy youth development: Science and strategies. Journal of Public Health Management Practice, Nov.(Supp), S10-S16. Retrieved from: http://www.health.ny.gov/community/youth/development/docs/jphmp_s010-s016.pdf
- Whitlock, J. (2004). Places to be and places to belong: Youth connectedness in school and community. Ithaca, NY: ACT for Youth Upstate Center of Excellence, Cornell University. Retrieved from: http://ecommons.library.cornell.edu/bitstream/1813/19327/2/places.pdf
According to 2008-10 data, about two-thirds of California public school students in grades 7, 9, and 11 expressed a high level of agreement that adults in the community had high expectations of them (65-67%) and that adults in the community cared about them (63-64%), but less than half reported a high level of agreement that they had opportunities for meaningful participation in their community (44-48%). Percentages were even lower among students in non-traditional schools (i.e., community day schools or continuation education).
Levels of total community assets – a summary measure that includes student reports of caring relationships, high expectations, and meaningful participation – were fairly similar among California 7th, 9th, and 11th graders in 2008-10, with 62-65% reporting high levels. As with other measures related to community connectedness, percentages were lowest among non-traditional students (46%). Levels of community assets also vary by gender, race/ethnicity, and by county and school district. For example, among racial/ethnic groups in California, the percentage of students reporting high levels of community assets in 2008-10 ranged from 57% for Latino students to 76% for white students.