Risk Factors versus Protective Factors

A ground-breaking study originally completed at Kaiser-Permanente from 1995-1997 examined the relationship between childhood abuse and neglect (or, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)) and later health and well-being. The study taught us that the more a child is exposed to ACEs, or Toxic Stress, the higher his/her vulnerability to a variety of behavioral, mental health/substance abuse and other problems later in life.

 

Study

The Takeaway Message

Education alone is insufficient

The Full Finding

Abuse Does Not Occur in Isolation

a) Behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse are often an attempt by the individual to cope with overwhelming and incredibly damaging life events;

b) Substance misuse and other risky or unhealthy behaviors do not occur in isolation.

c) Simply educating the broad population about the risks and dangers of drugs is insufficient. Comprehensive healing for those affected by ACES is imperative. Read more about why one doctor says “Addiction shouldn’t be called “addiction”. It should be called “ritualized compulsive comfort-seeking.”

 

Action

What Now?

Just as there are risk factors, there are also protective factors. Our job is to help increase protective factors while reducing risk factors.

The Five Protective Factors

Relationships

Strong bonds exist between youth and adults

Emotional Skills

Youth gain the skills necessary for becoming a mature adult

Purpose

There are opportunities for youth to have meaningful involvement in the community

Recognition

Community, school and family involvement is recognized

Modeling

Healthy beliefs and clear standards are communicated and modeled by adults

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