Professional youth work as a preventive service: Towards an integrated conceptual framework

J. J. J. Sonneveld*, J. W. Metz, M. J. D. Schalk, M. R. F. Van Regenmortel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Knowledge of how professional youth work might prevent individual and social problems in socially vulnerable youngsters is poorly developed. This article presents a conceptual framework that clarifies the implicit methodical process used by professional youth workers and focuses on what stakeholders regard as the potential of professional youth work as a preventive service. A qualitative research synthesis approach was used to combine the findings of six practice-based studies conducted in six European countries. This synthesis revealed that professional youth workers employ a multi-methodic approach in their prevention efforts, strengthening the social skills and self-mastery of youngsters, reinforcing their social network, enhancing their civic participation and helping them find additional social or health services. Twelve methodic principles were identified as contributing to achieving these prevention efforts, shedding light on the process taking place between youngsters and youth workers. This conceptual framework provides essential information for future evaluation research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)340-355
Journal International Journal of Adolescence and Youth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Youth work
  • conceptual framework
  • methodic principles
  • multi-methodic approach
  • prevention-focused outcomes


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