The Salesian youth ministry takes inspiration from Christ, who is the synod on youth and other teachings of the Church, and perceives the youth in a beautiful period of growth with its special characteristics and challenges. The theories of development according to Erickson, Piaget and Kohlberg, see adolescence as a time of change and choices. Apart from the normal anxieties and tensions of adolescent life, the modern world of globalization and information revolution presents the young person with more challenges that are spiritual, social, interpersonal, and intrapersonal. The Salesian youth ministry identifies them as challenges in ideology, identity, relationships, and career.
Among the many challenges, the behavior problems as described in DSM-5 are a concern for teachers, parents, and youth ministers. A contextual study of Kerala finds that anxiety, hyperactivity, conduct disorders, and study problems are major concerns. The salesian spirituality modelled after the figure of Jesus, the good shepherd, and the pedagogical experience of Don Bosco, with its scientific and realistic knowledge of youth behavior, endeavors to make these challenges into possibilities believing that no one is lost in their pursuit of growth and attempts to ignite the spark that is within the youth to reach their full potential.
The research has four stages. First, it explores the theoretical and developmental aspects of youth behavior. The challenges in youth ministry are discussed next with the help of Church documents, DSM-5, and other literature in psychology and youth ministry. Thirdly, the behavior concerns of adolescents within the age group of 15 to 17 in Kerala are analyzed. And, finally, the prospects of Salesian youth ministry is presented with its dimensions of growth as a method of integral formation of young people with pastoral counselling as a tool to address the challenges, particularly anxiety.