HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion

HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion ORDER NOW FOR CUSTOMIZED AND ORIGINAL NURSING PAPERS Unformatted Attachment Preview 1 A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family Policy Jeffrey M. Jenson Mark W. Fraser D uring the past century, social policies and programs for American children, youth, and families have undergone frequent shifts in philosophy and direction. Many policy frameworks, such as selective eligibility, universal prevention, rehabilitation, and punishment, have contributed to the conceptual bases for services, programs, and interventions designed for young people. However, the most consistent characteristic of American social policy for children and families may be the sheer inconsistency of efforts aimed at helping the nation’s most vulnerable populations. Recent advances in understanding the developmental processes associated with the onset and persistence of childhood and adolescent problems warrant new thinking about policies and programs. Since the first edition of this book was published in 2006, we have learned more about why some children and adolescents develop social and health problems, 5 6 SOCIAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES and—in the case of such problems as sexually transmitted diseases, drug use, and delinquency—why some youths make choices that lead to poor outcomes at home and in school and the community. Unfortunately, this knowledge is not yet systematically applied to policy or program design, which results in poorly specified, inadequately integrated, and wastefully duplicated services for children and families. The motivation for this volume comes from the growing recognition that knowledge gained from understanding the developmental trajectories of children who experience social and health problems must be used to craft more effective policies and programs. Coming of Age in America Children, youth, and families face enormous challenges in American society. At no time in the country’s history have young people and their parents been confronted simultaneously by such a wide array of positive and negative influences and opportunities. Most children and youth become healthy adults who participate in positive—or prosocial—activities guided by interests that lead to meaningful and fulfilling lives. However, for some American children and youth, the path to adulthood is a journey filled with risk and uncertainty. Because of the adversities these young people face, the prospect of a successful future is often bleak.HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion If we were to draw a picture depicting the current health of America’s children and youth, it would be a portrait of contrasts. On a positive note, young people between 15 and 25 years old are volunteering and becoming more involved in social causes than in the past (Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 2010). In addition, the prevalence of some problem behavior—most notably violent offending—has decreased considerably in recent years. For example, following a period of rapid increase between the late 1980s and 1995, the violent juvenile crime rate returned to its pre-1988 level and has remained relatively stable since 1996 (Puzzanchera, 2009). Juxtaposed against this promising news are the disturbing accounts of school shootings, persistently high rates of school dropout and drug use, and increases in childhood poverty (for reviews of school shootings, see Vossekuil, Fein, Reddy, Borum, & Modzeleski, 2002; Wike & Fraser, 2009). Nearly 38% of public schools in the United States reported at least one violent incident to police in the 2005–2006 school year (U.S. Department of Education, 2007). Sporadic acts of school violence have occurred in virtually every region of the country in the decade following the 1999 shootings at Chapter 1 A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family 7 Columbine High School in Colorado (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2008a). Academic failure and school dropout have become profound social problems. About 6% of all youth between the ages of 16 and 19 years old dropped out of school in 2008. Particularly troubling is evidence indicating that youth of color drop out of school at much higher rates than Caucasian students. In 2008, 11% of Latino, 13% of American Indian, and 8% of African American students dropped out of school as compared to only 5% of Caucasian youth (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010). As the world moves to greater globalization of markets and demands a more educated workforce, these young people face lives of limited opportunities and high unemployment, which brings consequential high societal costs. Drug use among American youth also imposes considerable individual and societal costs on the nation. In 2009, nearly 47% of the nation’s senior high school students reported lifetime use of any illicit drug, and 24% indicated they had used an illicit drug other than marijuana (Johnston, O’Malley, & Bachman, 2010). Despite a recent leveling in drug use trends, more than 19% of eighth-grade students reported lifetime use of any illicit drug in 2009. Particularly worrisome is evidence indicating that 7% of the nation’s high school seniors have tried dangerous drugs such as ecstasy (Johnston et al., 2010). These unacceptably high rates of drug use among children and youth are the focus of multifaceted policy and practice efforts at the federal, state, and local levels. Poverty is related to many social and health problems. Nearly 18% of U.S. children younger than 18 years old live in poverty, which significantly affects individuals, families, and communities (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010). In the United States, children are more likely than all other age groups to be poor (Cauce, Stewart, Rodriguez, Cochran, & Ginzler, 2003), and children of color are disproportionately represented in poverty. Among all U.S. children younger than 18 years, 34% of African Americans, 31% of American Indians, and 28% of Latino children were poor in 2007. HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion Those rates are more than double the rates for Asian and Pacific Islanders (12%) and non-Latino Caucasians (11%) living in poverty (Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2010). These statistics are important because living in poverty has both short- and long-term effects. Poverty has negative effects on several key outcomes during childhood and adolescence, including school achievement and delinquency (Brooks-Gunn & Duncan, 1997; Hannon, 2003). Poverty is also associated with adverse consequences during adulthood and later stages of life (McCord, 1997). The social and environmental conditions created by poverty give rise to a variety 8 SOCIAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES of public health problems that require well-reasoned evidence-based policy and program responses. Policy and Program Responses to Childhood and Adolescent Problems Experts from the fields of criminology, education, medicine, psychology, public health, social work, and sociology agree no single pathway leads to school failure, drug use, delinquency, and other problems. Rather, it is the accumulation of risk—the sheer number of adversities and traumas confronted by children and families—that seems to disrupt normal developmental trajectories (Rutter, 2001). In the mid-1970s, Jessor and Jessor (1977) asserted that a small group of youth simultaneously engaged in a variety of dangerous and costly problem behaviors; that assertion has been well supported by the research evidence over the past three decades. Indeed, the same academically marginalized youths who are involved in drug use may also be the youths at risk of sexually transmitted diseases and violent victimization from family members or partners. Despite the fact that we know far more about these high-risk youths, their friends, and their families (e.g., Elliott, Huizinga, & Menard, 1989; Huizinga, Loeber, & Thornberry, 1994; Loeber, Farrington, Stouthamer-Loeber, & Van Kammen, 1998; Robins & McEvoy, 1990; White, Loeber, Stouthamer-Loeber, & Farrington, 1999), we have seen few innovative policy strategies introduced to reduce the number of children and adolescents who experience these problems. A looming challenge for both advocates and experts is to find ways to incorporate and translate new knowledge (i.e., the product of research) into public policies and programs. One barrier to the efficient translation of research knowledge to practice is that current social policies and programs intended to meet the needs of U.S. children, youth, and families are highly fragmented. Many policies aimed at improving conditions for vulnerable and high-risk populations have failed to consider the number, nature, or severity of problems experienced by American families. Other policies and resultant programs are duplicated among agencies, leading to a host of eligibility and implementation conflicts in child welfare, developmental disabilities, mental health, substance abuse, education, and juvenile justice services. Moreover, the application of theoretical and empirical evidence to the design of social policies and programs aimed at improving the lives of children, youth, and families is limited. Social policy is often hurriedly Chapter 1 A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family 9 created in the context of galvanizing community events—such as the rush of safety policies implemented in the aftermath of the campus shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007—or trends that have attracted public attention and compelled legislation. In some cases, policies developed in reaction to specific events lead to decisions that fail to account adequately for unforeseen or unintended long-term consequences. A case in point is that of the extensive juvenile justice reforms implemented across the country in the early to mid-1990s. Faced with increased rates of gang activity and violent youth crime, nearly all states enacted reforms emphasizing strict sanctions and punishments for young offenders. Many of these reforms— most notably boot camp programs and the extensive use of judicial waivers for serious offenders (i.e., where some juvenile offenders were prosecuted in criminal courts and exposed to adult rather than juvenile sanctions)—subsequently produced mixed or ineffective results (Jenson, Potter, & Howard, 2001). HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion Over the past several decades, we have learned much about the causes and progression of child and adolescent problems. However, advances in understanding the life-course development of problem behaviors among children and youth have primarily been used to enhance prevention and treatment strategies rather than to inform theory development (Biglan, Brennan, Foster, & Holder, 2004). Aside from Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 1986) ecological perspective, the field lacks conceptual models that inform the design and direction of social policies for children, youth, and families. In this book, we argue that a public health framework—rooted in ecological theory and based on principles of risk and resilience—is defining a new and useful conceptual model for the design of social policy across the substantive areas of child welfare, education, income assistance, mental health, health, developmental disabilities, substance use, and juvenile justice. Public Health Frameworks for Social Policy In the field of prevention science, public health frameworks for understanding and preventing childhood and adolescent problems have become widely used to promote positive youth outcomes (Biglan et al., 2004; Hawkins, 2006; Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992; Jenson, in press). When designing or selecting interventions to ameliorate youth problems, social scientists give first consideration to the presence or absence of risk and protective factors affecting youth outcomes. Another concept closely related to those of risk and protection is the concept of resilience, which is 10 SOCIAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES the ability to overcome adverse conditions and to function normatively in the face of risk. A public health perspective guiding policy development aimed at children, youth, and families must incorporate these key concepts of risk, protection, and resilience. Risk and Protection Risk factors are individual, school, peer, family, and community influences that increase the likelihood that a child will experience a social or health problem. Although the idea of identifying risk factors to better understand childhood and adolescent problems has gained widespread acceptance in the prevention field (Catalano, 2007; Jenson, 2006; Romer, 2003; Woolf, 2008), its origins are relatively recent. The early work on identifying risk factors dates to the 1970s, when researchers began placing greater importance on understanding the individual, family, and community correlates of mental illness (Rutter, 1979, 1987). Stimulated in part by advances in research design and statistical analysis (e.g., the development of path analysis and structural equation modeling), a new emphasis on modeling underlying causes led investigators to identify specific factors that were consistently associated with the occurrence of delinquency, drug use, suicide, school dropout, and other problems. This approach, adapted from public health efforts to identify risk factors associated with problems such as smoking and heart disease, led to the use of “riskbased” strategies to prevent childhood and adolescent problems (Hawkins, Catalano, & Miller, 1992). Risk Factors The earliest risk factor models were primarily lists of the correlates of adolescent problems (e.g., Garmezy, 1971). HSE 215 AU Week 5 Working With Children in Middle Childhood Discussion These models were drawn from previous research that identified risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors such as substance abuse and delinquency (e.g., Hawkins, Jenson, Catalano, & Lishner, 1988). These early models often failed to consider the temporal relationship of risk factors to the occurrence of specific behaviors or to examine the additive and interactive effects of risk factors. However, recent reviews of risk factors for adolescent problem behaviors have improved on earlier efforts by limiting their selection of studies to those in which the risk factor clearly preceded a problem behavior (e.g., Fraser, Kirby, & Smokowski, 2004; Fraser & Terzian, 2005; Herrenkohl, Chung, & Catalano, 2004). In addition, longitudinal studies have been conducted to better understand the processes by which risk factors influence Chapter 1 A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family 11 behavior over the course of childhood and adolescence (e.g., Hawkins, Kosterman, Catalano, Hill, & Abbott, 2005; Loeber et al., 1998; Spoth, Redmond, & Shin, 1998). In this book, we adopt Fraser and Terzian’s (2005) definition of a risk factor: “Broadly defined, the term risk factor relates to any event, condition, or experience that increases the probability that a problem will be formed, maintained, or exacerbated” (p. 5). This definition recognizes that the presence of one or more risk factors in a person’s life has the potential to increase the likelihood that a problem behavior will occur at a later point in time. However, the presence of a risk factor does not ensure or guarantee that a specific outcome, such as school failure, will inevitably occur. Rather, the presence of a risk factor suggests an increased chance or probability that such a problem might develop. Table 1.1 presents common risk factors for childhood and adolescent problems arranged by level of influence. These and other factors are discussed in relation to specific topics presented in Chapter 2 through Chapter 9. In addition, the discussions address protective factors, which are closely related to risk factors. Protective factors are those influences, characteristics, and conditions that buffer or mitigate a person’s exposure to risk. Protective Factors Researchers began to notice that some apparently high-risk youths did not engage in problem behaviors. Studies showed that these youths were protected from risk. That is, they seemed to have personal resources that helped them prevail over adversities. These resources came to be called protective factors. Still today, there is ongoing debate about the exact definition of protection as well as how to put knowledge about protective factors into practice (Fraser et al., 2004; Rossa, 2002). Most investigators agree that protective factors are attributes or characteristics that lower the probability of an undesirable outcome (Benard, 2004; Rutter, 1987; Werner & Smith, 1992). # However, whether protective factors are independent of risk factors remains in contention. The knowledge base associated with the concept of protection emerged in the 1980s, when investigators such as Rutter (1979) and Werner and Smith (1982) observed that certain positive attributes appeared to operate in the presence of risk or adversity. However, the exact definition of a protective factor quickly became a topic of debate. Most of this debate has centered on the confusion created when risk and protective factors are thought of as opposite ends of a single continuum (Pollard, Hawkins, & Arthur, 1999). For example, researchers have often identified consistent family management practices as important 12 SOCIAL POLICY FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES Table 1.1 Common Risk Factors for Childhood and Adolescent Problems by Level of Influencea Environmental Factors Laws and norms favorable to antisocial behavior Poverty and economic deprivation Low economic opportunity Neighborhood disorganization Low neighborhood attachment Interpersonal and Social Factors Family communication and conflict Poor parent–child bonding Poor family management practices Family alcohol and drug use School failure Low commitment to school Rejection by conforming peer groups Association with antisocial peers Individual Factors Family history of alcoholism Sensation-seeking orientation Poor impulse control Attention deficits Hyperactivity a. Adapted from Fraser et al. (2004); Jenson and Howard (1999); and Hawkins et al. (1998). in producing positive outcomes in children, whereas a style of inconsistent family management is construed as a factor leading to poor outcomes. In some studies consistent family management is identified as a protective factor, and inconsistent family management is seen as a risk factor. Using risk and protection in this manner establishes the two concepts as polar opposites, with one pole representing positive Chapter 1 A Risk and Resilience Framework for Child, Youth, and Family 13 outcomes and the other pole representing negative outcomes. Therein lies the ongoing debate among social scientists, which can be briefly summarized as two questions: 1. Do risk and protective factors represent measurable levels of an attribute or characteristic that has two poles along a single continuum? 2. Are risk and protective factors separate and independent constructs? Our concept of protection holds that protective factors operate as a buffering agent to moderate exposure to risk. We offer the following definition from Fraser and Terzian (2005): “protective factors [are] resources—individual or environmental—that minimize the impact of risk” (p. 12). This definition is important because it views protective factors as individual characteristics and environmental conditions, and it emphasizes that those conditions or characteristics interact with specific risk factors present in either the child or the child’s environment. We argue that protective factors operate in three ways, by serving to • reduce or buffer the impact of risk in a child’s life, • interrupt a chain of risk factors that may be present in a young person’s life (e.g., disrupt a potential chain of risk that begins with peer rejection and leads to involvement with antisocial peers and then to delinquency), and • prevent or block the onset of a risk factor. (Fraser & Terzian, 2005) Table 1.2 shows common protective factors discussed by authors in subsequent chapters. 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