In an ongoing series in this column, we highlight one of Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets that have a powerful, positive impact on young people’s growth. These 40 assets comprise qualities, experiences and relationships that help young people grow up healthy, caring, and responsible. Asset #26 is Caring.

The holiday season is upon us and what a perfect season to talk about caring for others. Caring can be done either directly or indirectly. Direct help is spending time and interacting with people who need care. Indirect help is collecting money, food, or other items to distribute to those in need. In both forms, caring is critically important to those who receive the care as well as those who provide the care.

According to a Search Institute survey, only half of young people (ages 11-18) place a high value on helping or caring for others. Those who do consider caring important are more likely to promote and model positive behaviors.

Caring for others comes in many forms: caring for your family, neighborhood, school, community, country, etc. It can be caring for animals or the environment. Volunteering — whether for a group or an individual — is an excellent way for young people to show they care. The number of ways and places people can provide care for each other is simply endless.

So take time this holiday season to care for others and encourage the youth in your life to do so also. They will benefit from the experience and so will those that they help. If everyone cared for one another, the world would be a safer, happier, more peaceful place.

Tizzie Mantione