Problem: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) bi-annual National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (NYRBS), nearly 45% of all teens have smoked cigarettes at some point, nearly 71% have tried alcohol, and 40% have tried marijuana. Many potential factors have been identified as having a positive effect in treatment and cessation programs for at-risk adolescent populations, but research investigating the effects of these factors in prevention is still limited in scope. The present study examines relationships between risky health behaviors of freshman college students and the five Cs of positive youth development: competence, confidence, connection, character, and caring. Procedure: 204 emerging adult (18-19) college students who were involved in after school activities in high school completed the Positive Youth Development Inventory (PYDI) which measures the five Cs of positive youth development. We also included the substance use questions from the NYRBS. Results: Our data indicate that students who reported high levels of competence, confidence, and caring reported lower use of alcohol and marijuana. Conclusions: It appears that after school programs do foster the five Cs of positive youth development and may offer protective effects on underage drinking and marijuana use.

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Dr. Mary Pritchard