It was the distinguished UK psychiatrist, Professor Sir Michael Rutter, who first promoted the idea that there were risk and protective factors within the wider ecological framework of the child which profoundly influenced the child’s development. Although there are many ‘risk’ factors that can lead to poor child outcomes, there are also ‘protective factors’ that can mitigate the risks and promote resilience. Risk factors in child development such as living in poverty, poor health, lack of education, difficult family relationships are well known. New brain research has highlighted how important the early years are. Risk factors such as high levels of stress and lack of stimulation in the first three years can impact on brain development and lead to life-long future difficulties, often associated with emotional and behavioural problems which both impede their education but are also costly to society. Protective factors, on the other hand, such a stable relationship with a main carer in the first years of life, good quality day care in the early years, involved fathering, grandparents who help care and lack of marital conflict can actually compensate for many risks to a child’s development. With older children there is emerging evidence that ‘resilience, so necessary in this fast changing world, can be taught to those who do not have it naturally.
As the number of children in many parts of the world are now declining, parents and societies need to work together to maximise the potential of children. They are, after all, all our futures.
Journal： Open Journal of Social Sciences
DOI: 10.4236/jss.2014.24025 (PDF)
Paper Id: 44393 (metadata)
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