Protective factors within the person
supported by the community
• “For over 20 years, Bonnie Benard
has helped children and youth live
healthier, drug-free lives. She
develops resources, provides
training and professional
development, and presents to
national and international
audiences best practices in the
field of prevention and
theory and policy.”
“Fostering Resiliency in Kids
• Protective factors in the Family, School,
• Available from:
• National Resilience Resource Center
• University of Minnesota
History of prevention
• Traditionally look for risk factors.
• Personality (impulsive, risk-taking)
• Social settings (family and friends)
• Predict who will be affected.
• Biological susceptibility
• Genetic evidence
• Family history
• Children of alcoholics (COA)
• If father alcoholic,
• 25% sons affected
• General population rate of 5-10%
• Pathological (negative) view
states that 25% affected.
• Positive view wants to know
about the other 75%.
• More likely to be resilient.
• Look for protective factors.
• What lowers the risk?
• Use as prevention strategy.
• “Human personality is
viewed as a self-righting
mechanism that is
engaged in active,
ongoing adaptation to
Category of Protective factors
• 1) Individual personality attributes
• 2) Family characteristics
• 3) Environmental influences (peers, school
Profile of the Resilient Child
• 1) Social competence
• 2) Problem-solving skills
• 3) Autonomy
• 4) Sense of purpose and future
• “Resilient children are
responsive (and elicit
more positive responses
from others), more
active, and more flexible
• Bonnie Benard
• More likely to have a good sense of humor.
• Alternative ways of looking at things.
• Ability to laugh at themselves and
• Humor as transcendent strength.
• Cleaning up the mess at Micky D’s.
Problem solving skills
• Ability to think abstractly and flexibly.
• Rutter study of abused and neglected girls
in British slums.
• Good planning skills led to good marriages.
• Didn’t repeat the cycle of abuse.
• Street kids have to negotiate the demands of
their world to survive.
• Sense of one’s own identity.
• Ability to act independently.
• Exert control over one’s environment.
• “Stand away” from sick parent.
• Adaptive distancing from alcoholic parent.
• Know they are not the cause of illness.
Sense of purpose and future
• Healthy expectancies, achievement
motivation, persistence, hope.
• Strongest predictor of positive outcome.
• Education aspirations better predictor than
• Children of alcoholics pin success on sense
of the future.
Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention
• Marian Edelman of Children’s
• “A bright future is the best
• Responsibility for their ability to
influence the future.
• Antidote for learned helplessness.
Children develop in social setting.
• Social competence
based on interactions
with other people.
• Care giving also a
powerful predictor of
• Look next at
within the family.
1. Families: Caring and Support
• Most resilient children
can identify one adult
who provided them
stable care and gave
• Early years important.
Erik Erickson (1902-1994)
• Stage of psychosocial
• Birth to 18 months:
• Trust vs mistrust.
• The infant must form a first
loving, trusting relationship
with the caregiver, or
develop a sense of mistrust.
• Care giving during the
first year of a child’s life
is the most powerful
predictor of resiliency in
• Constant feedback from a
few adults early in life,
not necessarily the
Resilience in troubled families
• Michael Rutter (1979) in UK.
• Children with supportive
parent: 25% had conduct
• Children without: 75% had
• Aggressive behavior, bullying,
cruel behavior toward people
and pets, destructive behavior,
lying, truancy, vandalism and
2. Families: High Expectations
• Parental attitudes can help offset
• Parents support maturity, common
sense, learning and well-being in
children of Miami housing projects
• Encourage moral development.
• Family rules that maintain order.
• Religious beliefs and practices
• Provide stability and meaning in
times of adversity.
• Things will work out in the end.
• Child survivors of the Nazi
Holocaust: faith gave sense of
hope. Learn to love and show
compassion even in terrible
situation (Moskovitz, 1983).
3. Families: Encourage Children’s Participation
• Opportunities for children to
contribute in meaningful ways.
• Chores, care of siblings, part time
work to help family.
• Productive roles of responsibility.
• Family acknowledges contribution.
• Child has important role in family.
• Supports social competence,
problem solving, autonomy.
Families and communities
• Families exist within communities.
• Communities have important role to play in
• Power of school to influence the outcome of
children from high-risk environments.
• Protective factors within the school.
Protective factors within schools
• Researchers have found parallels with
factors found in the family.
• Caring and support
• High expectations
• Youth participation and involvement
Schools: Caring and support
• Fewer studies exploring the role of teachers.
• Not just a instructor but a confidant and role
model for personal identification.
• Children of concentration camps sent to
therapeutic nursery schools in England.
• All resilient children “considered one woman to
be the most potent influence in their lives. The
nursery school teacher who provided warmth
and caring and taught them to behave
compassionately (Moskovitz, 1983).”
Peer and friends
• Often overlooked role in
school and community
• Positive peer pressure
• Particularly effective in
reducing drug and
• High risk behavior.
Schools: High expectations
• In studies on resiliency, successful schools
had an academic emphasis
• Challenging curriculum
• Clear expectations from teachers
• High level of student participation
• Many, varied alternative resources:
• Library, voc ed, art and music
Negative power of labels
• “Children of alcoholics”
• May get special services.
• Also negative consequences
• Create powerful expectations.
• Low expectations internalized
• Resiliency enhanced by student
involvement in activities.
• Students given responsibility and
• Participate in organized activities.
• Sports, music, clubs.
• Take leadership roles.
• Activities that they value and take
and active role in running.
• “When one has no stake in the way
things are, when one’s needs or opinions
are provided no forum, when one sees
oneself as the object of unilateral actions,
it takes no particular wisdom to suggest
that one would rather be elsewhere
(Seymour Sarason, 1990).”
• Psychologist, expert in education reform.
Protective factors within the community
• Children socialized in family and school.
• Community also important.
• Profound influence on the “lives” of
families and schools.
• Capacity of community to build resilience is
called community competence.
• Competent community
depends on the
availability of social
• Provide links within the
• Networks on campus,
extended family, musical
Access to community resources
• Resources necessary to healthy human
• Health care, childcare, housing, education,
job training, employment and recreation.
• Guard against risk factors of social isolation
• Build social bonds that link individuals and
organizations to resources.
• Expectations of community.
• Community expectations of youth: resource
or source of problems?
• Youth must view themselves as
stakeholders in the community.
• Actively involved in organizations and
• Society set guidelines for youth.
Alcoholism is low in cultures where
• Children learn alcohol is a
• Served in dilute forms.
• Abstain okay.
• Parents model moderate
• Getting drunk not seen as
• Everyone knows ground
Alcoholism is higher in cultures where
• No ground rules.
• Mixed messages from different individuals
Getting drunk okay? Funny?
• Heavy drinking is encouraged.
• Drinking a sign of masculinity or adulthood.
Media images of alcohol
• Ireland has highest
heavy drinking rates in
• Youth bombarded
with alcohol ads.
• Have begun to restrict
• Change the culture.
• Cross-cultural studies have shown that
“youth participation in socially and/or
economically useful tasks is associated with
heightened self-esteem, enhanced moral
development, increased political activism
and the ability to create and maintain
complex social relationships (Kurth-Schai,
Full participation needed
• “Society needs the full
creativity of youth to
address the social and
of the present and
• Reinforces the “natural social
bonds between young and old,
between siblings, between
friends that give meaning to
one’s life and a reason for
commitment and caring.
• To neglect these bonds is to risk
the survival of a culture (Werner
and Smith, 1982)”.