top of page

Protective Factors and Processes

Research has identified protective factors and processes that can buffer young people from risks and promote positive youth development.  Children and youth live, learn and grow in a 24/7 environment, therefore risk factors and protective factors exist in their 24/7 environment. For that reason protective factors occur in the four areas of a child’s environment; family, school, community and as an individual and as a member of a peer group.


Protective Factors occur within the context of Protective Processes coined the Social Development Strategy.  The Social Development Strategy acknowledges that human beings are hard-wired for group involvement and interaction.  It doesn’t matter whether that group is the school drama club or a local gang – young people will affiliate with and adopt the standards of the group that offers the strongest incentives and the greatest psychological rewards.


The Social Development Strategy offers a model for achieving healthy behaviors among young people by involving the community in:

  • Providing opportunities, skills and recognition

  • Fostering attachment and commitment

  • Communicating health beliefs and clear standards

Where these protective processes are in place, bonding occurs.  Bonding is critical.  Youth who are bonded to their families, their schools, and their communities are much more likely to follow their values and standards.

It is a simple idea that makes a lot of sense – but bonding doesn’t just happen on its own.  Bonding requires conscious effort on the part of the group if young people are going to be socialized to belong to that group.  In particular, the three important processes shown above and below need to be present for bonding to occur.

Each of the Protective Processes (opportunities, skills to master the opportunity, and reinforcement - rewards - for that involvement and mastery) take place within the 24/7 environment in which young people live, learn, and grow.


Click here for the definitions of the Protective Factors that are part of the Protective Processes for each area of a young person’s life.

bottom of page