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Focus on the Personal and Structural: Resilience Explored

NCJ Number
Child and Youth Services Volume: 29 Issue: 1/2 Dated: 2007 Pages: 57-69
Niall McElwee
Date Published
13 pages
This literature review explores the concept of resiliency noting that it is used interchangeably within and between discourses and that there remains much disagreement around which factors constitute vulnerability and invulnerability.
It is accepted that for resilience to be present there must be exposure to risk. The literature on resilience varies greatly in its estimate of how many children and youth “survive and thrive.” Discourse on educational risk and resiliency is heavily influenced in more recent years by concentrating on children’s strengths, their family background and prior experiences, varied teaching strategies, collaborative learning, school-wide restructuring programs, creating schools within schools, and interdisciplinary teaching teams. The importance of the total family environment is crucial in resiliency literature. The link between a negative and chaotic home environment where a child cannot thrive because he/she is born into poverty, socially excluded, and discriminated against, and being at risk becomes obvious early in the educational context. Research shows that high-risk youth choose their pathways to resilience from within the various structures in which they find themselves. It is suggested that a resiliency approach to marginalized or vulnerable children and young people can focus on the inner strengths of families, children, and their teachers within and outside the school environment. There are many narrative accounts of resilience coming to the forefront in popular literature. How can one child thrive and another fail to thrive when living with the same family in the same neighborhood? An answer lies in the individuality of each child, in how each child makes sense of and engages with the world with the perceived hazards. This is a resiliency approach. It is the heart of understanding and practicing child and youth care and eloquently expressed in the Youth Encounter Projects. Notes, references


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