What is a Protective Factor?
Protective factors are the conditions that buffer children and youth from exposure to risk by reducing the impact of the risks, or by changing the way the young person responds to the risk.
Community Protective Factors
Community Opportunities for Pro-social Involvement
When youth have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their communities, they are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors. By having the opportunity to make contributions, young people feel as if they’re an integral part of their community, these strong bonds allow young people to adopt the community norms, which can protect youth from risk.
Community Rewards for Pro-social Involvement
Youth who feel recognized and rewarded by members of their community are less likely to engage in negative behaviors, because recognition helps increase a youth’s self-esteem and the feeling of being bonded to the community.
Family Protective Factors
Family Opportunities for Pro-social Involvement
When youth have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to their families, they are less likely to get involved in risky behaviors. By having the opportunity to make contributions, young people feel as if they’re an integral part of their families, these strong bonds allow students to adopt the family norms, which can protect youth from risk. For instance, children whose parents have high expectations for their school success and achievement are less likely to drop out of school.
Family Rewards for Pro-social Involvement
Youth who feel recognized and rewarded by members of their family are less likely to engage in negative behaviors, because recognition helps increase a youth’s self-esteem and the feeling of being bonded to their family.
One of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of problem behaviors among young people is to help strengthen their bonds with family members who embody healthy beliefs and clear standards. Children who are bonded to family members who have healthy beliefs are less likely to do things that threaten that bond, such as use drugs, commit crimes or drop out of school. Positive bonding can act as a buffer against risk factors. If children are attached to their parents and want to please them, they will be less likely to threaten that connection by doing things that their parents strongly disapprove of.
School Protective Factors
School Opportunities for Pro-social Involvement
Students who have viable opportunities for positive social involvement in their school feel more connected to the school community and are less likely to engage in anti-social behavior aimed at the school or other students.
School Rewards for Pro-social Involvement
Making students feel appreciated and rewarded for their involvement at school helps reduce the likelihood of their involvement in drug use and other problem behaviors. This is because students who feel appreciated for their activity at school bond to their school.
Individual Protective Factors
Religious institutions can help young people develop firm pro-social beliefs. Young people who have high levels of religious connection are less vulnerable to becoming involved in antisocial behaviors, because they have already adopted a social norm against those activities.
Belief in the Moral Order
When people fell bonded to society, they are more motivated to follow society’s standards and expectations. It is important for families, schools and communities to have clearly stated policies on drug use. Young people who have developed a positive belief system are less likely to become involved in problem behaviors. For example, young people who believe that drug use is socially unacceptable or harmful are likely to be protected against peer influences to use drugs.