Risk Factors and Development

Optimal child development may be compromised by several risk factors, including poverty, poor nutrition, harsh/inconsistent parenting, familial substance abuse, and low parental education, to name a few. Children developing within these maladaptive contexts often exhibit poor developmental outcomes across cognitive, social, and behavioral domains, such as low academic achievement and antisocial behavior. Some children exposed to great adversity, however, develop competence, suggesting that some factors may protect (or buffer) high-risk children from experiencing negative developmental outcomes. The purpose of this entry is to (a) describe the theoretical framework guiding the research on the development of risk and protective factors; (b) identify how risk factors at the child, parent, family, and community level negatively affect developmental outcomes; and (c) describe how protective factors may moderate negative ...

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