For many years child care practitioners and researchers concerned themselves with identifying risk factors — like abuse, neglect or parental drug misuse — that might adversely affect the normal growth and development of a child. Recently, equal attention has been given to the discovery of protective factors, or factors associated with positive developmental outcomes in spite of difficult or adverse circumstances.
This change in emphasis is not just of academic interest. An understanding of the factors that protect children from harm can improve planning for children in need of care and protection. And can help us to recognise that — even in the most difficult or challenging of circumstances — children, their carers, and local communities contain natural strengths and protective influences.