Youth at Risk

Craig Winston LeCroy and Elizabeth Anthony

in Social Work

ISBN: 9780195389678
Published online December 2009 | | DOI:
Youth at Risk


“Youth at risk” is a general term for a range of circumstances that place young people at greater vulnerability for problem behaviors, such as substance abuse, school failure, and juvenile delinquency, and mental health disorders, such as depression and anxiety. When studying youth at risk, researchers typically focus on the risk factors that contribute to—and the protective factors that serve to buffer against—problematic outcomes. Protective factors can be thought of as either personal factors, such as problem-solving abilities or competence, and perceived efficacy or environmental resources, such as social support in the community or family income. A paradigm shift in the field more than twenty years ago brought considerably more attention to the adaptive behaviors and outcomes of youth at risk in the form of resilience studies. The challenge for those studying youth at risk is in identifying young people who are more likely to develop problems that prevent them from transitioning to healthy adults—hence the notion of “risk.” While much of the risk research emerges with a focus on epidemiology and therefore the study of individual “risky behavior,” other research has emphasized “risky situations or environments,” where circumstances predispose young people to engage in behavior with serious negative consequences. This entry identifies major references for studying youth at risk from the disciplines involved in this field (child psychiatry, developmental psychopathology, developmental psychology, public health, prevention science, and social work). Youth are differentiated from children and adults by the developmental tasks of early, middle, and late adolescence (typically ages ten to eighteen but sometimes including young adults age nineteen to twenty-four).

Article.  7064 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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