Risk and protective factors

Risk and protective factors

Research has shown that there are a variety of factors that influence whether or not a young person will struggle with risky behaviors such as underage drinking, drug abuse, delinquency or violent behavior. Risk factors may increase the probability that a youth will engage in such behaviors. Protective factors, on the other hand, may decrease the probability a youth will engage in risky and unhealthy behaviors.

Both risk factors and protective factors are complex and cumulative. Their impact on a person’s future behavior depends on how many risk or protective factors occur at the same time, how intense they are and how long they persist.

While a child may be exposed to certain risk factors over his or her whole life (such as the negative impact of growing up in a poor neighborhood), the negative influence of such risk factors may be lessened by other protective factors such as a structured and nurturing home environment, and a connection to religious or community groups. Having positive long-term relationships with caring adults is another powerful protective factor for youth in avoiding risky and unhealthy behaviors.
 

For more information, contact: 
Position: 
Director, Healthy Families and Communities
Phone: 
413.586.4900 x5580
Email: 
scairn@collaborative.org