Adolescent Development


Our research answers the following questions: What do Americans think about youth, why do they think what they do, what consequences does that have for youth advocates, and how might they best engage Americans in a discussion about positive youth development?

Our Funders

This project was generously supported by the following: the WT Grant Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program funds from the Minnesota Department of Education, and Federal Child Care Development funds from the Minnesota Department of Human Services in conjunction with the University of Minnesota.

Research & Recommendations

Drawing from a decade of new research on how Americans think about child and youth development, FrameWorks offers new insights and recommendations in this MessageBrief (2015).

New!Talking Juvenile Justice Reform: A FrameWorks MessageMemo
Two bodies of FrameWorks research on issues relating to youth development and criminal justice are synthesized in this analysis of public thinking about juvenile justice, funded by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This MessageMemo explains reframing strategies that have been tested to advance juvenile justice policies, allowing advocates for adolescents and criminal justice reformers to pivot from these issues to juvenile justice reforms.

New!Shifting Gears on Juvenile Justice: A FrameWorks Communications Toolkit
explains how to implement reframing recommendations, using examples from the field.

A comprehensive strategic message memo, Reframing Youth Issues for Public Understanding and Support (2001) synthesizes our research findings and recommends strategies to communicate more effectively about youth.

Making the Case for Youth Programs: the Minnesota Research - A FrameWorks Message Memo (2005). This Memo reports on findings from the FrameWorks Institute’s recent research on how Minnesotans think about adolescence in general and, more specifically, programs for youth that take place in non-school hours.

How to Talk About Youth (2008). This Message Brief distills the research findings and framing strategies explained in the Message Memo, and offers a summary of key communications strategies on the issue.

What's The Matter With Kids Today: Television Coverage of Adolescents in America (2005).  Whether it is criminality, drug use, drinking, sex or education, it is argued that youth often appear in news stories as a social problem in need of a solution. Not surprisingly, polls and focus groups have shown that adults share many of these views of adolescents.

How Two Cognitive Biases Work Against Support for Youth Development Programs: Findings from Cognitive Elicitations (2004).  This report explores the patterns of reasoning that average Minnesotans bring to the larger issue of positive youth development as well as to the specific topic of out-of-school time (OST) programs.

A Developmental Perspective: An Analysis of Qualitative Research Exploring Views of Youth Programs (2004).  This report of a series of focus group discovers how adults in the state of Minnesota view adolescence in general and youth development programs in specific.

The 21st Century Teen: Public Perception and Teen Reality (2001).  This report outlines some of the central underpinnings of public opinion regarding teenagers, including the current mood of the public, their questions about teen values and morals compared to teens’ reported values and experiences, the top problems teens face according to teens, parents, and educators, parents’ relationship with their teenager, and public opinion in six areas: education, sex, substance abuse, violence, the influence of the media, and juvenile justice.

Images of Youth: A Content Analysis of Adolescents in Prime-Time Entertainment Programming (2000).  This report presents new information about the ways that adolescent characters are shown in prime-time entertainment programs viewed by both children and adults in the U.S. and around the globe.

Aliens in the Living Room: How TV Shapes Our Understanding of "Teens" (2000).  The report addresses – from a cognitive perspective – the general question of how television impacts American understandings of teens.

How Americans Understand Teens: Findings From Cognitive Interviews (2000).  This report tries to determine Americans' basic understandings of youth — not focusing on their opinions about particular issues relating to adolescents (these have been extensively documented in previous polls and surveys), but on the more fundamental cultural models that define the American concept of Teenager, and on which the various opinions are based.

Reframing Youth: Models, Metaphors, Messages (2000).  This report presents a number of ways of talking and thinking about teenagers that have the potential to shift public attitudes in a positive direction.

Teenhood: Understanding Attitudes toward Those Transitioning from Childhood to Adulthood (2000).  Results of a series of focus groups about the attitudes of Americans toward “teenagers.”


Our Products and Tools

Talking about Youth: Framing the Discussion is a comprehensive toolkit of our research in Minnesota containing Frequently Asked Questions, sample op-eds, and other communications resources on the issue.  

FrameWorks Institute

  Updated: 06/27/16