What Works to Improve the Lives of America’s Teens

(WASHINGTON, D.C., May 21, 2002) – Child Trends, in partnership with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, today unveiled a new set of tools to improve the health and well-being of America’s youth, based on a comprehensive review of the best and most recent research on adolescent development. The new tools, intended for service providers, funders, the media and policy makers, include:


  • Web-based What Works tables that identify programs and approaches which experimental research studies have been found to be successful in improving youth outcomes and behaviors. The tables enable users to easily find “what works,” “what doesn’t work” and some “best bets” to promote youth development and reduce risks to adolescents’ well-being. “Best bets” describe promising findings from research, results from non-experimental evaluations and wisdom from practitioners working in the field.
  • American Teens, a new series of seven research briefs summarizing and “translating” key research and evaluation studies on youth development and on programs and interventions to support young people.

“Too often rigorous evaluations of programs to help America’s teen-agers never make their way into the hands of those who can use them. We hope these tools will change that,” said Kristin A. Moore, president and senior scholar at Child Trends. “Those who control resources and design programs will be able to use this information to make more informed decisions about the best interventions for kids in their local setting.”

Beginning May 21 through November 12, 2002, Child Trends will release What Works tables and research briefs approximately every four weeks on preventing teen pregnancy, encouraging better eating and exercise habits, promoting mental and emotional health, motivating teens in school, promoting positive social skills and encouraging responsible citizenship. (See schedule below.)

“We are committed to helping communities replicate successful initiatives and acquire information on best practices identified through evaluation,” said John Bare, director of program development and evaluation at the Knight Foundation. “Our local partners know their communities best. This helps them make decisions about the best way to improve the lives of teens in their communities.”

The first research brief and What Works e-table on adolescent reproductive health were released today. The brief, Preventing Teen-age Pregnancy, Childbearing, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: What the Research Shows can be viewed and downloaded from www.childtrends.org/Files/K1Brief.pdf.  Click here to view the interactive What Works table and the rest of the American Teens series.

Schedule of Release Dates for American Teens Series

Preventing Teen-age Pregnancy, Childbearing, and Sexually Transmitted Diseases: What the Research Shows

May 21, 2002

Encouraging Teens to Adopt a Safe, Healthy Lifestyle: A Foundation for Improving Future Adult Behaviors

June 25, 2002

Helping Teens Develop Healthy Social Skills and Relationships: What the Research Shows about Navigating Adolescence

July 23, 2002

Educating America’s Youth: What Makes a Difference

August 27, 2002

Promoting Positive Mental and Emotional Health in Teens: Some Lessons from Research 

September 16, 2002

Encouraging Civic Engagement: How Teens Are (or Are Not) Becoming Responsible Citizens

October 29, 2002

Building a Better Teen-ager: A Summary of “What Works” in Youth Development

November 12, 2002