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Risk and Protective Factors

The Communities That Care process creates awareness of the risk and protective factors impacting on the healthy development of children and adolescents. Throughout the process, communities target their prevention efforts to reduce risk factors and strengthen protective factors in the four domains of community, family, school and peer/individual.

What are risk factors?

Risk factors are those elements in a young person’s environment that increase the likelihood of them engaging in health compromising behaviours. They exist in all domains of social development – community, family, school and peer/individual. Risk factors are identifiable throughout the developmental continuum, and are consistent in effects across races and cultures.

The risk factors used in CTC have been shown in multiple longitudinal studies to be reliable predictors of at least one of six adolescent health and social problems – alcohol and drug abuse, antisocial behaviour, youth violence, school failure, anxiety/depression and teenage pregnancy. A risk and protective factor chart maps the relationship with health and social outcomes. The CTC process provides communities with tools for measuring local risk factor levels in order to select risk factor priorities on which a strategic plan can be focused.


What are protective factors?

Protective factors buffer against risk in otherwise adverse circumstances by either reducing the impact of risk, or changing the way a child or young person responds to it. The Social Development Strategy provides a framework that explains to communities how to increase protective factors through everyday interactions with children and adolescents. Protective factors used in CTC are derived from a research base and occur in all four social development domains.

Most of the risk and protective factors targeted in the Communities That Care process are measured using the Communities That Care Youth Survey.

Risk and Protective Factors