Resilience And Vulnerability Among Children Essay

2592 words - 10 pages

Vulnerability and resilience among children continues to be a popular topic in research of developmental psychology. The two definitions are closely tied together as they are considered both sides to the spectrum. Schaffer (2006) defines vulnerability and resilience “as the susceptibility to develop malfunctioning following exposure to stressful life events, as opposed to the capacity to maintain competent functioning stress”. If stressful life events are the trigger here, why is it that some children are far more vulnerable, yet others are more resilient? The three studies discussed in this paper will attempt to explain why these differences occur and what can we do to enhance protective factors.
An easy way to conceptualize the term resilient is defined by Berger (2008). Berger (2008) refers to resilience “as the capacity to adapt well to significant adversity and to overcome serious stress”. According to Berger (2008) there are three parts to this definition: resilience is dynamic, it is a positive adaptation to stress, and adversity must be significant. In regards to Berger’s first part, it is apparent that resilience is dynamic. In one article, a 14-year old girl was described as living absent from her institutionalized mother, and because of this she was responsible for taking care of her younger siblings and alcoholic father (Alvord & Grados, 2005). Results of a longitudinal study concluded that although she should have formed an avoidant relationship with a future partner, she went on to form a secure and long lasting marriage. The article questions if she was good at coping (resilient) or was she invulnerable? Second part to Berger’s definition is the fact that resilience is a positive adaptation to stress. A more recent study has given us evidence that children can recover and develop normally (Alvord & Grados, 2005). These findings were evident when deprived orphans from Romania were adopted to amorous families living in the United Kingdom. Following the adoption, cognitive and physical growth increased. These children had the ability to continue their growth through wise choices, enhanced education, and take advantages of new opportunities (Alvord & Grados, 2005). Finally, Berger (2008) explains “Adversity must be significant. Some adversities are comparatively minor (large class size, poor vision), and some are major (victimization, neglect). Looking at adversity from a humanistic perspective we need to recognize individual differences, such as culture, gender, and emotional experiences. Keep in mind, resilience is not a personality trait, it is a process.
Schaffer (2006) defines risk and protective factors as “conditions that increase the probability of some undesirable outcome or, on contrary, conditions that buffer the individuals against undesirable outcomes”. Risk and protective factors exist independently from one individual to another. Not only are an individual’s characteristics important, but their...

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