New Resources on Adolescent Self-Esteem for Professionals Working with Youth

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Self-esteem is at risk as children grow into adolescence. Understanding how self-esteem changes in youth and ways to improve self-esteem is vital for professionals and other adults called upon to support young people. New resources on adolescent self-esteem are featured in the current issue of The Prevention Researcher, the quarterly journal focused on successful adolescent development.

adolescent self-esteem

Adolescent Self-Esteem Issue of The Prevention Researcher

Self-esteem tends to drop as youth progress from childhood to adolescence, especially for girls ...

“Self-esteem tends to drop as youth progress from childhood to adolescence, especially for girls,” says Steven Ungerleider, Ph.D., founding editor of The Prevention Researcher. “It’s important that professionals who work with youth have programs in place that help young people achieve a high level of self-esteem during their teen years.”

Having high self-esteem is associated with a number of positive behaviors, goals and coping processes that facilitate success in school, work, and relationships, while having low self-esteem is associated with mental health problems, antisocial behavior and substance abuse.

In the current issue of The Prevention Researcher, researchers explore adolescent self-esteem, focusing on avenues for improving self-esteem among youth, including extracurricular participation, mentoring, and intervention programs.

Richard Robins, Ph.D. and his colleagues provide a brief primer on self-esteem and review the literature on self-esteem intervention programs. In their article, the researchers examine several conclusions about the nature of self-esteem that provide a foundation for future practice and research. They “readily acknowledge the controversies over the value of high self-esteem and the possibility that interventions may have unintended negative consequences” concluding that “the existence of such debates makes it all the more important to conduct rigorous evaluations of theoretically-based self-esteem enhancement programs.”

Russell B. Toomey, Ph.D. and Adriana J. Umaña-Taylor, Ph.D. explore how the different components of ethnic identity are directly related to self-esteem, and how ethnic identity may either promote self-esteem or protect self-esteem against stressful events. They note that “at the very least, including a focus on ethnic identity in prevention programs before and during adolescence should provide ethnic minority youth with new skills and knowledge that will help them develop a better understanding of themselves, which in turn may increase self-esteem.”

In her article on “Extracurricular Activity Involvement and Adolescent Self-Esteem,” Lisa A. Kort-Butler, Ph.D. describes the theoretical basis for the relationship between extracurricular activities and self-esteem, explores the empirical evidence, then offers practical suggestions. She suggests that professionals working with youth “think about structured extracurricular activities as contributing to an array of developmental, social, psychological, and interpersonal factors that together promote well-being and self-esteem.”

Sarah E. O. Schwartz, M.A., M.Ed. and colleagues explore how mentoring impacts adolescent self-esteem. They consider three types of mentoring (natural, community-based, and school-based) and discuss three characteristics which may influence the effectiveness of mentoring (intensity, duration, and quality). The article also summarizes the research on 1) the effects of mentoring relationships on self-esteem; 2) factors that predict variation in relationship effectiveness, leading to either positive or negative effects; and 3) the processes through which these relationships exert such effects. The researchers conclude with recommended practices for mentoring programs which can contribute to positive youth outcomes.

For a preview of a digital edition of The Prevention Researcher on “Adolescent Self-Esteem,” visit

About The Prevention Researcher

Founded in 1994, The Prevention Researcher is published by the non-profit, Integrated Research Services in Eugene, Oregon. The quarterly journal focuses on successful adolescent development and serves professionals who work with young people in a variety of organizational settings.

Each issue of The Prevention Researcher covers a single topic, presenting the latest adolescent behavioral research and findings on significant issues facing today’s youth. The journal provides information about programs that create supportive environments for youth, strategies for preventing problems affecting adolescents, and resources that help youth-serving professionals.

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Todd Peterson
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