Handbook for Working with Children and Youth: Pathways to Resilience across Cultures and Contexts
Publication Year: 2005
The Handbook For Working With Children & Youth: Pathways To Resilience Across Cultures and Contexts examines lives lived well despite adversity. Calling upon some of the most progressive thinkers in the field, it presents a groundbreaking collection of original writing on the theories, methods of study, and interventions to promote resilience. Unlike other works that have left largely unquestioned their own culture-bound interpretations of the ways children and youth survive and thrive, this volume explores the multiple paths children follow to health and well-being in diverse national and international settings. It demonstrates the connection between social and political health resources and addresses the more immediate concerns of how those who care for children create the physical, emotional, and spiritual environments in which resilience is nurtured. ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
Part 1: Theoretical Perspectives
- Chapter 1: Children's Risk, Resilience, and Coping in Extreme Situations
- Chapter 2: Culture and Ethnic Identity in Family Resilience: Dynamic Processes in Trauma and Transformation of Indigenous People
- Chapter 3: Lessons Learned from Poor African American Youth: Resilient Strengths in Coping with Adverse Environments
- Chapter 4: Gendered Adaptations, Resilience, and the Perpetration of Violence
- Chapter 5: The Theory of Resilience and its Application to Street Children in the Minority and Majority World
- Chapter 6: Beyond Resilience: Blending Wellness and Liberation in the Helping Professions
- Chapter 7: Community-Based Child Welfare for Aboriginal Children: Supporting Resilience Through Structural Change
- Chapter 8: Beetles, Bullfrogs, and Butterflies: Contributions of Natural Environment to Childhood Development and Resilience
Part 2: Methodological Challenges in Resilience Research
- Chapter 9: Methodological Challenges in the Study of Resilience
- Chapter 10: Qualitative Resilience Research: Contributions and Risks
- Chapter 11: Psychosocial Health in Youth: An International Perspective
- Chapter 12: Resilience and Well-Being in Developing Countries
- Chapter 13: The International Resilience Project: A Mixed-Methods Approach to the Study of Resilience across Cultures
Part 3: Intervening across Cultures and Contexts
- Chapter 14: Israeli Youth Cope with Terror: Vulnerability and Resilience
- Chapter 15: Overcoming Adversity with Children Affected by HIV/AIDS in the Indigenous South African Cultural Context
- Chapter 16: Bent but not Broken: Exploring Queer Youth Resilience
- Chapter 17: Psychosocial Functioning of Children from Monogamous and Polygamous Families: Implications for Practice
- Chapter 18: Strengthening Families and Communities: System Building for Resilience
- Chapter 19: Professional Discourse of Social Workers Working with At-Risk Young People in Hong Kong: Risk or Resilience?
- Chapter 20: Resilient Youth in North East India: The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in Communities Affected by Violence
- Chapter 21: Alternative Approaches to Promoting the Health and Well-Being of Children: Accessing Community Resources to Support Resilience
- Chapter 22: Respecting Aboriginal Families: Pathways to Resilience in Custom Adoption and Family Group Conferencing
- Chapter 23: Social and Cultural Roots of Russian Youth Resilience: Interventions by the State, Society, and the Family
- Chapter 24: Intercepts of Resilience and Systems of Care
- Chapter 25: Youth Civic Engagement: Promise and Peril
- Chapter 26: Resilience in the Palestinian Occupied Territories
- Chapter 27: Resiliency and Young African Canadian Males
- Chapter 28: Violence Prevention Programming in Colombia: Challenges in Project Design and Fidelity
Copyright © 2005 by Sage Publications, Inc.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data
Handbook for working with children and youth : pathways to resilience across cultures and contexts / edited by Michael Ungar.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-4129-0405-6 (cloth)
1. Resilience (Personality trait) in children. 2. Resilience (Personality trait) in adolescence. 3. Resilience (Personality trait) in children—Cross-cultural studies. 4. Resilience (Personality trait) in adolescence—Cross-cultural studies. 5. Social work with children. 6. Social work with youth. I. Title: Pathways to resilience across cultures and contexts. II. Ungar, Michael, 1963-BF723.R46H357 2005
05 06 07 08 09 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
Acquiring Editor: Jim Brace-Thompson
Editorial Assistant: Karen Ehrmann
Production Editor: Sanford Robinson
Typesetter: C&M Digitals (P) Ltd.
Copy Editor: Linda Gray
Indexer: Karen A. McKenzie
Cover Designer: Michelle Kenny
This book wouldn't exist without the inspiration of some very special, and often ignored, individuals whom I have met during years of travel in countries like Pakistan, Malaysia, Egypt, Tanzania, Colombia, and Israel. I also owe much to children who I came to know in correctional facilities, community mental health clinics and child welfare agencies. Together these children taught me about what it takes to survive. This book, by pushing the bounds of accepted scholarship on resilience, honors their wisdom.
More practically, though, this book owes much to the world-class mentors and colleagues whom I have counted as friends these past many years and whose work has helped to inform my own. Many of them are contributors; many others continue with their work, some recognized for their contributions, others largely unrecognized. Though too numerous to name, I hope they will see in this book reflections of what they have taught me during our many discussions.
Closer to home, I would also like to acknowledge the help and patience of the research assistants and teaching assistants who have helped with the production of this work and the research projects on which it is based. These people include Linda Liebenberg, Janus Siebrits, Andrea Gregus, Anna Lee, Rhonda Brophy, Susanna Steinitz, and Nora Didkowsky, among others. I am also indebted to the editorial staff at Sage for their invaluable assistance, most notably Jim Brace-Thompson, who saw in this project an opportunity to contribute to this field of study.
Bringing this work to completion has also been greatly assisted by my family, who have joined me often in my rambles around the world in search of the inspiration for this volume. Cathy, my partner, and our two children, Scott and Meg, have always been there for me, even when commitments to writing may have meant time away from them.
Lastly, this work would never have appeared without the financial support of various granting agencies, including The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation, as well as supplementary funding from the Canadian International Development Agency. Well-funded research has made it possible for me to enjoy the luxury of collaborations and innovation. I am indebted to those who contribute their time and leadership to those agencies.[Page x]
Reading through the manuscripts that constitute the chapters for this book causes me to reflect on what I have learned from almost three decades of experience as a researcher, educator, author, program consultant, and legal expert witness dealing with issues of resilience in the lives of children and youth. I have learned that human beings are indeed generally adaptive and resourceful but that resilience is not unlimited, automatic, or universal.
Under conditions of numerous serious threats experienced in hostile environments (“risk accumulation”), no child may escape unscathed, no matter how well equipped the child may be temperamentally. Every child has limits. Much is made in the scientific literature and the popular press of resilience. Although it is defined in numerous ways, resilience generally refers to an individual's ability to bounce back from adverse experiences, to avoid long-term negative effects, or otherwise to overcome developmental threats. Every one of us knows someone whose life is a testament to resilience. The concept of resilience rests on a key research finding: Although experiencing any specific negative influence increases the odds of a particular negative outcome, most children escape severe harm. I have seen and heard resilience at work in youth prisons (Garbarino, 1999), in inner-city neighborhoods and early childhood programs (Garbarino, Dubrow, Kostelny, & Pardo, 1992), in war zones and refugee camps (Garbarino, Kostelny, & Dubrow, 1991), in families (Garbarino & Bedard, 2001), and in schools (Garbarino & deLara, 2002).
However, as the concept of resilience has been promoted in ever-wider circles, there has been a parallel concern that the concept may easily be misused or misunderstood. Four such limitations are of particular importance in our conceptual toolbox as we look at the lives of children and youth coping with adversity. First, we must remember that resilience is not absolute. Virtually every youth has a breaking point. Research conducted by psychiatrist Bruce Perry on the impact of trauma and deprivation on brain development leads him to assert that kids are “malleable” rather than “resilient,” in the sense that each threat costs them something.
What is more, as psychologist Patrick Tolan (1996) points out, in some environments, virtually all youth demonstrate negative effects from exposure to highly stressful and threatening environments. In his Chicago data, for example, none of the African American adolescent males facing a combination of highly dangerous and threatening low-income neighborhoods, coupled with abusive families, was resilient at age 15. In this case, resilience was measured by a child having completed a two-year period during which he or she was neither more than one grade level behind in school nor requiring professional mental health services to deal with psychological problems. These data, however, leave unanswered the question of how these youths perceived themselves. Some of them may well have defined their status as “normal” or “unaffected.” Regardless of these self-perceptions, Tolan's data do provide a picture of their ability to cope with some important social realities of day-to-day functioning in America.
Avshalom Caspi, Terrie Moffitt, and their colleagues (Caspi et al., 2002), provide another example in research that focused on the role [Page xii]of a genetically based difference in crucial neurotransmitters (chemicals in the brain that influence the processing of information and arousal). When the MAOA gene is “off,” the child does not have the same level of the enzyme that enables these neurotransmitters (e.g., norep-inephrine, serotonin, and dopamine) than when it is “on.” If children have the MAOA gene turned off and are abused, about 85% develop a chronic pattern of aggression, violating the rights of others, and antisocial behavior (and can be diagnosed with “conduct disorder” if one is of a clinical bent). If kids are abused and the gene is turned “on” the figure is only about 40%. If the gene is turned off and the child is not abused, the rate of conduct disorder is about 20% (and 20% if the gene is on and there is no abuse).
But beyond this childhood reality of almost total effect (85% of the children are diagnosable with conduct disorder), does the combination of early maltreatment and MAOA vulnerability lead to an adult life dominated by negativity? Are children resilient? An ecological perspective would predict that the answer to both questions, indeed to virtually all developmental questions, is “it depends.” The effects of the childhood double whammy or the “off gene and the experience of abuse are much less dramatic when the researchers look at whether or not an individual is convicted of a violent crime and whether or not the individual demonstrates symptoms of antisocial personality disorder in adulthood. These results seem to indicate that although the pathway into conduct disorder in childhood is almost a given for children who get the double whammy of being abused and having the MAOA vulnerability, the pathway from there into an antisocial life in adulthood is subject to other influences.
Second, we must remember that resilience in gross terms may obscure real costs to the quality of an individual's inner life. Some people manage to avoid succumbing to the risk of social failure as defined by poverty and criminality but nonetheless experience real harm in the form of diminished capacity for successful intimate relationships. Thus, even apparent social success—performing well in the job market, avoiding criminal activity, and creating a family—may obscure some of the costs of socially successful coping. The inner lives of these individuals may be fraught with emotional damage—to self-esteem and the capacity for intimacy, for example. Although resilient in social terms, these individuals may be severely wounded souls.
This has long been evident in comparing the resilience of boys versus girls. Boys who succumb to the accumulation of risk have long been prone to act out in explicitly antisocial behavior (juvenile delinquency), whereas girls have been more likely to respond with self-destructive behavior and internalized symptoms such as stomachaches, nightmares, and wretchedly low self-esteem. Does this mean girls are more resilient than boys? A simple accounting of social success variables might lead us to think so. However, if we take into account the full range of harm, we can see that such an answer would be wrong. Kids adapt: for better and for worse.
Third, we must always be vigilant lest cultural bias and ethnocentrism cloud our assessments of resilience. Just as some individuals are socially successful yet spiritually and emotionally afflicted, so the reverse is true as well: Some individuals who are apparently social failures are actually spiritual and psychological successes. This is particularly true when there are cultural differences involved in the assessment of resilience.
Sternberg (2004) and his colleagues have provided reliable and excellent evidence that although some cognitive abilities and processes are universally part of the foundation for intelligence, social and cultural context go a long way toward defining the meaning and manifestation of competence in the real lives of children and youth. This insight has several implications for our understanding of resilience. For one thing, it highlights the importance of knowing the ecology of the child or youth so that the meaning of “competence” and “coping” used in any assessment of resilience is situationally valid. Also, it warns us against the simplistic application of standards of competence from one ecological niche to another. Rather, as Sternberg so clearly demonstrates, it impels us to see the world through the eyes of the child and youth in any effort to assess resilience. What is more, it argues for “dynamic” assessments that illuminate the child's ability to learn to demonstrate competence in new settings rather than simply [Page xiii]taking as definitive assessments conducted at one time (and perhaps in one place). Indeed, this approach on assessment is wholly consistent with the very concept of resilience, which is not about the immediate destabilizing effects of trauma and other adverse experiences but, rather, the child's ability to learn how to move from these insults to a position of health and success (in terms that are meaningful culturally and phenomenologically).
Fourth, we must not forget that “resilient” does not necessarily mean “morally superior.” The youth who demonstrates resilience has extraordinary attributes and resources that the non-resilient child does not have. Being unable to protect oneself against the accumulation of risk factors does not constitute moral turpitude. Some environments are too much for anyone, and to use the concept of resilience as a basis for moral judgment in these settings may be inappropriate and unfair. I have seen this firs-thand when testifying as an expert witness in youth homicide trials. In one case, although seeking to discredit my expert testimony bearing on the role of trauma in shaping youth behavior, the prosecutor used the concept of resilience in precisely this manner. In his cross-examination, he asked why the defendant was not as successful as other kids in difficult situations. His exact words were, “What's wrong with this boy that he is not resilient?” That's not fair and it's not good science. It leads to judging and blaming in ways that are themselves unethical and bad science. The burdens imposed on children who live with violence, particularly when accompanied by an accumulation of other risk factors are sometimes too heavy for
anyone to carry without psychological back breaking. Starting with compassion for this brings head and heart together. To study resilience, one should adopt a fundamental humility about oneself and one's culture and society and simultaneously a respect for the human strength of others. The chapters in this book take these four cautions seriously and offer a convincing demonstration that resilience is indeed “a many splendored thing.”References[Page xiv]Role of genotype in the cycle of violence in maltreated childrenScience297(2002)851–854http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/science.1072290, et al.(1999). Lost boys: Why our sons turn violent and how we can save them. New York: Free Press.(2001). Parents under siege: Why you are the solution and not the problem in your child's life. New York: Free Press., 8(2002). And words can hurt forever: How to protect adolescents from bullying, harassment, and emotional violence. New York: Free Press., 8(1992). Children in danger: Coping with the consequences of community violence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass., , , 8(1991). No place to be a child: Growing up in a war zone. New York: Lexington Books., , 8Culture and intelligenceAmerican Psychologist59(2004)325–338http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.59.5.325How resilient is the concept of resilience?Community Psychologist29(4)(1996)12–15
Introduction: Resilience across Cultures and Contexts[Page xv]
Like all works on resilience, this one too is a cultural artifact, the result of a shared set of beliefs, values, and ideologies found among a group of academics, child advocates, clinicians, and other specialists who share an interest in children's unique ways of protecting themselves when growing up amid adversity. Although I share with contributors to this volume the common goal of better understanding children, our multiple standpoints make me reticent to assert that there is any one pathway to health common to children globally. Instead, I must be satisfied with a collage of competing truths, each a vibrant local account of what we have come to think we know about children's well-being. The more we dialogue across social, cultural, and linguistic barriers, the more convinced I am of a plurality of possible ways to account for children's resilience.
The best place to begin this exploration of pathways to resilience is close to home. I live on the East Coast of Canada. I am a white, heterosexual male. I earn a good income. I am able-bodied. The risks my family and I confront in our daily lives are negligible compared with those of many other families and their children living less than a mile from my home. Of course, the latchkey children across the street who come home after school to an empty house, who spend hours with video games, suffer their own risks that come with being emotionally neglected. Fortunately, as a community we have provided services and structures to, at the very least, meet these children's needs. There are schools they can attend, guidance counselors who check in on them, government-funded social workers to investigate claims of neglect against their parents. There are also community programs, perennially underfunded, but nevertheless available. There are police, doctors, and emergency services close at hand.
Farther from my home, there are children who face far different challenges. They still confront the same acute risks of my neighbors, experiencing episodes of abuse or the disruption of divorce. But their worlds provide more chronic stressors as well. For example, the African Nova Scotian communities a little north of where I live and across the harbor have experienced systematic discrimination and underservicing that have been an unfortunate part of their deep-rooted history. Their schools have historically been underfunded more than those in my neighborhood. Their access to health care is compromised by the poverty that results from prejudice. They are more likely to be the target of police checks and incarceration. These same prejudices led to the outright dislocation of the African Nova Scotian community in the 1960s to make way for a bridge over the harbor. Combined, these intrusions have taken their toll.
Of course, I could widen the circle further. I could speak about street children in other parts of my community, youth who couch surf, drift between shelters, or when weather permits, populate the streets of every major city and small town in Canada. I could go further and paint simplistic pictures from my travels in Aboriginal communities in Canada and describe the challenges they face: the legacy of residential [Page xvi]schools that were a cultural genocide that has contributed to epidemics of substance abuse and suicide. I could move beyond my national borders and look to the United States with its structural inequities, the multiple risks of biological, psychological, emotional, and social factors confounding children's development. But why stop there? I could look overseas to the Middle East, Asia, South America, Africa, and even Eastern and Western Europe where the politics of hatred and prejudice, war, poverty, disability, and marginalization due to gender, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity all combine to disadvantage children. I could easily paint a picture of a world of children at risk.
This monochromatic view of children and families presents us with a singular and “thin” description of children's lives. Seldom do we hear accounts from children themselves. This is unfortunate because a quieter, less articulated version of children's lives speaks of resilience. It is a much more hopeful vision, one embraced by the authors of the chapters in this volume. If we look, we can find within each population of at-risk children aspects of healthy functioning that may or may not have been overlooked.Discovering Resilience
In the middle to late 1900s, a growing number of researchers such as Werner and Smith (1982), Rutter (Rutter, Maughan, Mortimore, & Ouston, 1979), Garmezy (1976), and Murphy and Moriarty (1976) began to structure longitudinal studies in Western contexts that found that an inconsistent and unpredictable number of children from at-risk populations presented with remarkably good mental and physical health outcomes despite the multiple disadvantages of structural, familial, and individual stressors.
That body of work has become the basis for a burgeoning field of research into resilience among children and adults. It has provided clinicians, policymakers, child advocates, and researchers a different way of thinking about populations at risk. It has shown that some individuals do survive incredible hardship and that the uniqueness of their solutions may be invisible to outsiders to those lives. However, even as we have come to notice the health to be found among at-risk individuals, our definition of this resilience has tended to assume a minority-world bias, that of the small, privileged part of our world that lives in relative affluence in Western democracies. In particular, most resilience literature comes from the Western-trained psychological and social service community.
Within this narrow community, resilience has come to mean the individual capacities, behaviors, and protective processes associated with health outcomes despite exposure to a significant number of risks. Without risk, there is no resilience, only health of a different order. Although a good start, and a paradigmatic shift from a focus on the etiology of disease to the “etiology” of health, we have ignored the bias inherent in what we assume to be health indicators. A volume such as this, that places side by side so many different understandings of children's well-being, is a challenge to this homogenizing health discourse. This broadening of our perspective is analogous to what the theory of resilience has done to psychopathologizing discourses of well-intentioned professionals who nonetheless stigmatize at-risk populations with labels of dysfunction. This volume seeks to open to debate what is and is not a sign of health, the variety in the pathways children travel to well-being, and the theoretical and methodological challenges accounting for this plurality of perspectives internationally. This new ground can be charted, however, only because of the debt we owe to the resilience pioneers who shook us up with their vision of health hidden amid danger.
Caution is needed when speaking of resilience. The discourse of resilience can be (has been?) co-opted by proponents of a neoconservative agenda that argue if one person can survive and thrive, then shouldn't the responsibility for success be on all individuals within populations at risk to do likewise? Are services really needed, or should people themselves be expected to follow the lead of the “invulnerables” and surmount their difficult life circumstances? It is a familiar twist on the “anyone can be president” myth. It denies the very real structural constraints on children's lives. Not all children have the constellation of capacities to succeed. Much less would there be the capacity of our society as it is structured to provide places for all children if they were to succeed. After all there is only one president every four years.
[Page xvii]More invisibly, resilience research and interventions based on a resilience framework have presented models of successful growth and adaptation that are biased toward Western conceptions of healthy functioning, ignoring the arbitrariness in their selection of outcome variables. The bulk of the resilience literature is based on a Eurocentric view of the world. This view is a product of a philosophical enlightenment that has taken place over the last 400 years during which the world became a knowable, measurable, and predictable place. Arguably, the complexity of resilience, the myriad ways individuals, families, and communities overcome adversity, cannot be so simplified as to generate a single set of principles generalizable from one contextually specific study to the next. This is not to say we cannot embrace the tools of scientific inquiry in different contexts, seeking the gold standard of external validity for each population under study. We can assert, “For this one group of people, sharing these qualities, what our research shows is likely to be true.” But to go further, to speak globally, when we are bound to act only locally, requires that we overstep the bounds of reasonableness. If we learn anything from working cross-culturally, it is that to speculate on the commonality of people's experiences is to tumble into an abyss of uncertainty. Claims of external validity are now being challenged by those formerly marginalized by the process of research (minority groups, women, people with disabilities or illness). They are calling for authenticity, relevance, and the representation of people's localized truths.
Although I might be fairly certain that what I know about health may be relevant to the neglected children who live next to me, I am less certain of the veracity of what I know about what makes a child resilient when I encounter communities further afield, such as those of Canada's First Nations or those in countries that are less economically developed, although with cultural traditions and indigenous health practices far more ancient than my own.
At a time when we are increasingly open to critical engagement between those marginalized and the elites who hold power over them, there is a need when studying resilience to understand the multiple pathways that children, their caregivers, and communities travel toward health. This book is intended to broaden our understanding of how children, youth, and the adults who care for them sustain resilience in diverse cultures and contexts. In the process, it challenges the individualizing discourse of health, showing that resilience is embedded not only in psychological factors but also in the structures that support children's access to the resources they need to sustain well-being.A Popular Theory
A burgeoning interest in the study of resilience has resulted in a fascination with lives lived well despite adversity. Television talk shows and bookstore shelves are full of tales of those who have survived well. They provide a picture of individuals who encounter any of a host of challenges and then marshal personal and social resources to overcome them. Eric Weihenmayer (2001), for example, in his biography of his life as a visually impaired mountain climber, demonstrates incredible resourcefulness and determination as he learns to conquer more and more difficult peaks, eventually reaching the summit of Mt. Everest, a metaphoric as much as a physical accomplishment. In a different vein, The Girl in the Picture: The Kim Phuc Story (Chong, 2000), documents the life of a 9-year-old girl badly burned during a napalm attack in Vietnam in 1974. A newspaper photo of Phuc shortly after the attack not only helped to end the war by raising awareness of what was happening but also brought her much-needed medical attention even as she was being exploited as a tool for government propaganda. Her story, too, is one of survival.
To understand these lives lived well, one cannot, however, overlook the cultural, social, and structural forces at play. Each was provided with very real resources that contributed to survival. Each had access to opportunities. Each also had the intelligence and temperament to exploit those opportunities.
A broad developmental perspective on resilience that can fully account for how children become resilient in multiple contexts and across cultures has yet to be fully articulated. A number of works from Western authors, such as Combrinck-Graham's (1995) Children in Families at Risk, Walsh's (1998) Strengthening[Page xviii]Family Resilience, Luthar's (2003) Resilience and Vulnerability: Adaptation in the Context of Childhood Adversities, and Greene's (2003) Resiliency, have alluded to the trajectories of at-risk children's growth and the protective factors that promote resilience. Each has contributed to our thinking about what creates healthy individuals and families. However, as helpful as these works have been, they have not demonstrated the plurality of pathways and the cultural embeddedness of how health is realized by children and families growing up under adversity. We need to take an approach more typical of McCubbin (McCubbin, Fleming, et al., 1998; McCubbin, Thompson, Thompson, & Fromer, 1998; McCubbin, Thompson, Thompson, & Futrell, 1999), Werner and Smith (1992, 2001), Glantz and Johnson (1999), and Johnson-Powell and Yamamoto (1997), all of whom have made more explicit the need for contextual and cultural specificity when studying, intervening, or theorizing resilience as a developmental process in at-risk populations.The Local and the Universal
There are many branches to this unwieldy tree that makes up the field of resilience research. Fields as diverse as developmental psychology, international development, refugee studies, criminology, and child and youth care, among others, have shown an acceptance of the concept of resilience and produced bodies of literature congruent with its usage. We are now coming to understand perilous development in cultures under stress (Johnson-Powell & Yamamoto, 1997), just as we are the neurological markers of children who cope better with stress (Denenberg, 1999; Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000). However, this knowledge is seldom sufficiently contextualized to make it relevant to those whose worlds it purports to represent. Recipients of interventions based on theories unquestioningly embedded in a dominant Western psychological discourse of disease and psychopathology are routinely suspicious of concepts and interventions created by those well-intentioned “others” beyond their borders (temporal, geographic, and sociocultural) (Swartz, 1998). As Rapoport (1997) explains,
In the smaller scale societies in developing [sic] countries, the impingement of modern values has produced a spectrum of responses from reaction against what they perceive as alien to enthusiastic acceptance of what they perceive as modern and advantageous. There is still little known about how and why families respond in the way they do. Even less is known about the process of reconciling local traditional values with global values, (p. 75)
A construct as complicated as resilience requires a critical deconstruction, with special emphasis placed on the social locations of those who hold the theory to be true. What then is the value of this thing we call resilience? If it is a product of discourse, a socially and contextually specific idea that is open for interpretation by those who use it around the world, then what can it offer health professionals and researchers? How can we say anything meaningful about children's pathways through adversity that will resonate with “truth” for everyone globally if resilience remains a concept controlled by Western professionals?
These questions are answerable. In fact, if we turn to philosophers such as Hacking (1999), who has sought to understand how ideas such as health become accepted as true, we see that realities are fixed through their simple day-to-day ritualization, the everyday way in which lives are lived. Hacking illustrates his point with a critical examination of what are termed “paper crime waves,” the excessive focus on a public event that exceeds the relative importance of the phenomenon to most people's lives. This media hyperbole leads people to exaggerate the occurrence of the event and gives rise to panic. In North America, we see this occurring with youth crime, which continues to decrease despite public perceptions to the contrary. Hacking cautions us, however, from treating such panics as simply social constructions. Such a simplistic and dismissive understanding, he says, overlooks the complexity of the relationships involved and the intricate power plays between individuals and institutions that sustain the definition of the problem.
Opening up the concept of resilience to a similar critique helps us to avoid simplistic explanations that all expressions of children's survival are social constructions and therefore [Page xix]equally valid pathways to health. Promoting such social relativism is not the intention here. A population of children at some risk may sustain health in many different ways that reflect their access to the resources they need to create health. But the views of the dominant culture, frequently that found in the minority Western world, cannot be so easily dismissed as a paper tiger. Instead, we need to move beyond the dualism, a view of resilience as all about local context or all about grand metatheories that reflect the bias of their expert proponents.
It is this same middle path that has been well charted by others such as Swartz (1998), who has examined mental health in the context of Southern Africa. To Swartz, the contextuali-zation of mental health phenomena is essential because biomedical explanations of disorder alone are inadequate to account for people's experiences of illness worldwide. Mental health must be understood as more than an intrapsychic or psychiatric phenomenon. The difficulty will always be balancing the emic and etic perspectives of those who experience illness and those who diagnose and treat it. As Swartz observes, creating an antiracist psychiatry requires that we see beyond the empiricism of psychological theory. We need a new language that more than translates ideas across cultures but that relays differing constructions of what health means and how it is expressed. Specific to the problem of translation (in particular its failure), Swartz explains,
If we hold the empiricist view, the task of translating is simply finding the appropriate words in different languages for feeling states. If on the other hand we hold the hermeneutic/ constructionist view, the task of translating is more complex: we have to consider the extent to which the act of translation implies the construction of a particular reality, (p. 29)
None of this, however, opens the door to a complete relativism or an overprivileging of indigenous medicine. According to Swartz (1998), mental illness does exist in developing countries, is recognized by people's communities as a sign of illness, leads to stigmatization, and cannot always be cured through the use of indigenous methods. Naivete under the guise of cultural sensitivity simply re-creates the dualism between the minority and majority worlds, without appreciating any shared realities whatsoever. A better balance is required.
In the chapters that follow, we move back and forth between the specific and the universal, between local knowledge and pan-global understandings. This dialogue is meant to draw a line in the sand, to find the ever-shifting place where local truths compete with global truths in a healthy dialectic. When it comes to children's survival, we need to understand their accounts of their experiences while aggregating what we know collectively to offer others at risk some signposts on an effective pathway to health. The challenge is to provide these signposts without privileging a Eurocentric understanding of resilience as universal.
Of course, some aspects of resilience are so ubiquitous as to appear universal: We agree in most cultures and contexts not to do violence to one another (except in ways justified by the need for self-defense); we agree to share food with loved ones; we form attachments; we seek power over our lives and a position of recognition in our communities. These are all essential elements of resilience that appear in global studies on health. We can assert with confidence such truths as “universal by consent” (see Leonard, 1997). We can also simultaneously strive to show tolerance for a polyocular view of the world, encouraging transcultural exchanges that help us to see the varying degrees of relevance of many of our commonly held beliefs about what makes people healthy when exposed to risk. The juxtaposition in this book of differing theories, definitions, and interventions concerned with resilience demonstrates this ambivalence between the cold certitude of the enlightenment and the free-for-all of the postmodern. If we are to understand resilience better, we must open to scrutiny what we know and how we practice based on that knowledge.
Health data are never neutral. One would, for example, hardly know that teenagers are acting more responsible sexually now than in any time since statistics have been gathered. The teen birth rate in the United States has dropped to 42.9 births per 1,000 women aged 15 to 19 (Childtrends, 2003). The drop has been seen in all racial and ethnic groups and in all regions of [Page xx]the United States. Furthermore, teens' self-reports of sexual activity have also declined slightly. Strange, then, that there is still a moral panic about teenagers and sexuality. Stranger still is that the rate of teen births during the 1950s and 1960s was twice what it is today, given perceptions that sexuality was more controlled during both those decades. What we fail to understand in a media awash with worry is that interventions and a widening social safety net are having the effect we anticipated. Clearly, in the context of where I live, we have the technologies required to help children grow up safer and to prevent their exposure to risk.Is Resilience Research Flawed?
If we are to make the study of resilience a legitimate and fundable endeavor, one that can offer a counterpoint to the study of disease and psychopathology, we will need to address its shortcomings. Critics contend that the concept of resilience may be nothing more than a tautology, a simplistic way of saying that whatever makes you stronger must necessarily be good. There is also the danger of identifying resilience in individuals we have already arbitrarily designated as successful by the design of our inquiry into their lives. If, for example, a child remains in school despite population-wide risks associated with dropping out, then we might argue the child is resilient. But what does such a distinction, the laying on of the label resilient, add to our understanding about children and health? We already, after all, have ample theories to explain why some children drop out and why others do not.
With all the problems discussed above, it is not surprising to find some researchers abandoning the construct of resilience altogether. Tarter and Vanyukov (1999) characterize resilience as lacking heuristic value or practical usefulness because of its nonlinearity and failure to predict epigenetic trajectories through life. Their argument is ecological: “Successful or poor adjustment does not ultimately reside in some abstruse property of the person such as resilience but instead emanates from the interaction between the person's phenotype and environment” (p. 99).
Arguably, what the study of resilience as an overarching concept adds is the possibility to weave a tapestry of health-related phenomena that offers a paradigmatically different position from which to examine children at risk. Resilience researchers and clinicians look to those who succeed for clues to successful development rather than focusing on those who succumb to risk. When we investigate what makes someone strong instead of what causes weakness, we are more likely to identify that which bolsters health. Alleviating illness gets us only halfway to resilience. We might interrupt the course of a disease, but we fail to understand how individuals sustain health. This shift in focus is imperative if we are to study health rather than disorder. As Glantz and Sloboda (1999) explain, despite criticisms of resilience research, “It should not be discarded because it encourages an important focus on a real and important phenomenon” (p. 113). In our pursuit of the etiology of health, we encounter the multiple forces at play in the lives of those who survive and thrive. For example, in Canada, it is noteworthy that some children don't drop out of school when facing the combined threats of decreased job prospects or the systemic prejudice encountered by visible minorities, most notably Aboriginal and African Canadian youth. However, it is even more remarkable that children don't drop out when they must dodge bullets to get to school or resist the pull into street gangs and the money and status they bring when growing up in the poorest communities of Medellin, Colombia. Shifting our focus to health, we are given culturally embedded clues to survival strategies. Collectively, these strategies can help us understand where best to invest our limited social and financial capital.
Because good interventions and policies tend to be built on enlightened science, it has fallen to researchers to demonstrate what resilience is and how it is nurtured. The problems of arbitrariness in what is measured and what is used as health outcomes and the difficulties of accounting for social and cultural variability are all aspects of resilience research that are not insurmountable. Even the skeptics are encouraging a much-needed debate. I would agree with Glantz and Sloboda (1999) who write the following:
[Page xxi]Unfortunately, the concept of resilience is heavily laden with subjective often unarticulated assumptions and it is fraught with major logical, measurement, and pragmatic problems…. We share many of these concerns. We find there is great diversity in the use of the concept; it is used variously as a quality, a trait, a process, or an outcome. We have identified few attempts to assess resilience in which measurement problems do not cloud or eclipse the findings. There is no consensus on the referent of the term, standards for its application, or agreement on its role in explanations, models, and theories. In sum, the problems and inconsistencies in measurements, findings, and interpretations in the published literature raise serious questions about the utility and heuristic value of the concept of resilience, (pp. 110–111)
These are not necessarily arguments for abandoning the term, which, as Glantz and Sloboda (1999) note, is still much needed. They do, however, push us to find a heuristically useful understanding of resilience that is helpful for comprehending the way children live their lives day-to-day.
There are many different hypotheses about what sustains resilience. Frequently, they are not well articulated, hidden beneath the fog of a dominant discourse that is more concerned with illness than health. For example, Loeber and Farrington (2000) note in their review of the factors contributing to juvenile delinquency:
Some children engage in minor delinquent acts for excitement, adventure, or other emotions common among children. For these children, offending may be considered as part of the context of child development in which youngsters learn prosocial behaviors by trial and error, (p. 742)
Although it is certain that for some of these children, these early offenses are “stepping stones in pathways to serious, violent, and chronic offending” (p. 743), for many others, these events do not predict future negative outcomes. It is intriguing that Loeber and Farrington find such problematic behaviors to be part of normative development in some contexts. The problem, as they explain, is that “currently we have few tools to distinguish between those young children who will continue with their problem behavior and those who will not” (p. 746). What is refreshing is that Loeber and Farrington can at least see the complex negotiations for health of the subjects in their study. If we are to understand healthy coping among children at risk of becoming delinquents, then we must look for patterns of health-seeking behavior that co-occur with their problems. Thus, we can see what Glantz and Sloboda (1999) mean in concrete terms when they invite us to “postulate the interaction of positive and negative influences leading to variable outcomes” (p. 114). In the case of children who act like delinquents, it is a difficult distinction to make between those who are engaged in risk-taking behaviors as a way to further their positive growth and those whose delinquency puts them on a course to more serious problems. To categorically say that risk-taking socially deviant behaviors are all bad, or all good, overlooks the variability in children's pathways to health.
An example such as this enters us into the realm of Saussure's (1978) signs and signifiers: We can no longer be entirely certain that any set of behaviors signifies either health or illness. Empiricism does not necessarily become obsolete, however. Instead, our attention is called to the contextual specificity and need to account better for the meaning those being investigated hold for the phenomena under study. The more complex and mixed method our designs, the more likely we are to achieve a theory that accounts for the multiplicity of competing understandings of health (and illness).
As Massey, Cameron, Ouellette, and Fine (1998) note in their studies with youth, at least three problems face resilience researchers: values, context, and trajectory.
Resilience researchers have suggested that resilience can be conceptualized as increased self-esteem, decreased depression, and improvements in one's social competence, sense of coherence, or sense of empowerment. These multiple indicators of well-being complicate a simple conceptualization of thriving. In many cases the values implied by these indicators suggest outcomes harmonious with the lived experience of our participants, although in other cases there may be disagreement between the values of researcher and those of the researched [italics added], (p. 339)
[Page xxii]In practice, one can see how these research problems get expressed in instances where children are resistant to interventions or behave in ways that challenge cultural norms. A remarkably diverse collection of studies have found that resistance is not all bad, and in fact, the children and families who challenge authority are often those who maintain health better than the passive victims of structurally exploitive educational and social welfare systems (see Ungar, 2004). Resisting hegemony has its value, although one is less likely to be seen as resilient. There is a fine balance observable in the lives of at-risk children and youth between conformity and resistance, each contributing to the definitional ceremony of becoming known as resilient to one's peers, caregivers, and community (see Bowman, 2001, for an example of how Palestinian families strengthen their collective identity through acts of resistance and personal sacrifice). Studies of lives lived well, such as those provided in this volume, highlight this tension, providing a caution to our nomothetic tendencies to categorize children without attention to the contexts in which labels are worn.Culture and Context
The construct of resilience has relevance globally, although pathways to health must be understood as contextually specific. Take, for example, instances where children experience substantial social upheaval. In 1996, a post-Soviet Russia adopted a new set of laws to govern families that have significantly changed the relationship between children and parents and families and State institutions. In this world of ambiguity and shifting norms, there have been unforeseen challenges as both bureaucrats and professionals are reluctant to pass to parents the State powers they enjoyed before perestroika. Not surprisingly, contemporary Russian parents are also not prepared to rear their children independent of the State's sharing responsibility and authority over children (Butler & Kuraeva, 2001). From my standpoint, where the boundaries between State and family are more clearly defined, I find it difficult to understand the Russian family's dilemma. This blinder to my Russian counterpart's more collectivist orientation would, of course, bias any research I design from my cultural standpoint that might overemphasize individualism.
But how much does any systemic risk such as that found in Russia compromise the health of children? Should it be considered a risk factor at all? Markowitz (2000) shows that despite the changes Russian children have experienced over the past decade and a half, remarkably few have noticed how different their lives are from that of their parents. Instead, amid the chaos, adolescents have taken up the challenge to design a life that works well for them, one that emphasizes “challenge and adventure” (p. 216). In a world of constant change, anything becomes possible. As the value placed on authority breaks down in school and community, as evidenced by the dissolution of organizations for children sponsored by the Communist party, the effect has been to leave a cultural vacuum that is more noticeable to adults than children. Yet despite the absence of these formal collectivist organizations, Russian teens still desire the same close connection to their families and a few close friends that were common a generation ago. One must therefore exercise caution assessing Russian children as more at risk now as a result of the socioeconomic turmoil experienced by their caregivers.
This trend toward greater understanding of health in context has been evolving for decades. More than 30 years ago, we saw novel approaches to studies of people's experiences that challenged racial bias. Ladner (1971) observed in her landmark study of 30 young black women:
We can observe differences between racial and social class groups regarding, for instance, the time at which the female is considered to be ready to assume the duties and obligations of womanhood. Becoming a woman in the low-income Black community is somewhat different from the routes followed by the white middle-class girl. The poor Black girl reaches her status of womanhood at an earlier age because of the different prescriptions and expectations of her culture. There is no single set of criteria for becoming a woman in the Black community; each girl is conditioned by a diversity of factors depending primarily upon her opportunities, role models, psychological [Page xxiii]disposition and the influence of the values, customs and traditions of the Black community, (p. 11)
We know that how children address the “maturity gap” (Moffitt, 1997) between their status as children and their participation in their communities as adults is an important component of how children negotiate their way to healthy adult identities. That Ladner (1971) opens to debate the cultural bias of normative behavior in American culture problematizes the whole notion of what is and is not measured as risk and resilience in the West. By her work, Ladner shakes the foundations of what we assume to be healthy adolescent behavior. If teenage pregnancy needs to be reconsidered as a sign of risk, then the entire psychological enterprise of arguing what is health and illness tumbles like a house of cards. What we see in its place is the tentative negotiated agreement that defines what is a healthy pathway to resilience and what is not for each specific context.
This is similar territory to that charted by other feminist authors in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Gilligan (1982) showed us the different developmental pathways for girls' moral development, and members of the Stone Center such as Surrey (1991) and Miller (1976) challenged Erikson's stage theory of development. In both cases, these authors make the distinction that what we believe about development and, ultimately, about health is influenced by the dominant culture that has privileged male ways of classifying the world as normative or nonnormative. We no longer need to think of independence and autonomy as the signs of healthy growth. Instead, if we take the lead from these feminist theorists, we see that growth in connection is a better description of how girls develop. Interestingly, this has also been shown to be an accurate description of how healthy males develop as well. Osherson (1992) found among young men an expressed desire to find connections with their fathers and children. Perhaps we must follow Ladner's (1971) lead. As she notes,
It is simply a question of whether or not the values, attitudes, behavior and systems of belief which govern the dominant white middle class should be the criteria by which Black people, most of whom have never been allowed to assimilate into the American mainstream, should be evaluated, (pp. 267–268)
Substitute the phrase “Black people” with any other group that does not count itself among the privileged white middle class and one quickly sees the shallowness of assuming any definitive construction of healthy functioning that can be evaluated outside the context in which it is experienced. The bulk of resilience research, although itself contesting the irony of trying to say something meaningful about health from studies of illness, has avoided looking critically at how wellness is culturally embedded and expressed.Constructions of Risk and Resilience
First things first. There is a good news story everywhere we turn. As much as professions such as social work, psychology, and psychiatry, and the general public hooked on CNN, want to imagine the world a more dangerous place, our children more at-risk than ever before, and life in general miserable, there remains much to be hopeful about. This does not minimize the staggering impact that people globally experience from HIV-AIDS, the effect of war and community-wide epidemics of violence, or the lack of human rights for the many who are dispossessed. In each instance, however, there remains an alternate story, one that is much more full of hope. There is a fine line when studying resilience: One can simply ignore the bad or, alternately, be too realistic, embedded in an empiricism that is itself biased by the numbers it reports. Instead, we may be better off to appreciate that the construction of problems is dialogical. As Houston and Griffiths (2000) have shown, at some level, risk is socially constructed, dependent for its identification on a discursive process that names what we experience as a risk to our well-being.
Take, for example, two perspectives on violence. Michael Moore's Academy Award-winning documentary Bowling for Columbine is a disturbing and humorous look at the culture of fear in America today, a fear that is far out of [Page xxiv]proportion to the risks people face. Instead, according to Moore, the fear that is seeded by the media and nurtured through people's collective beliefs makes Americans constantly afraid for their safety. Their response, a liberal access to guns, has ironically made the very people trying to protect themselves 10 times more likely to be killed by a firearm than in Canada and 50 times more likely than people living in Japan.
In contrast, we can examine a very different perspective on violence. Accounts from Bogotá, Colombia, one of the most violent places on earth, with homicide rates that have been as high as 4,000 per year in a city of 3 million, show that for most people the experience of violence is still a relatively rare event. Duque and his colleagues (Duque, Klevens, & Ramirez, 2003) have found that few people in Bogotá say they experience extreme forms of violence, despite very well-founded perceptions by outsiders that their communities are dangerous.
Which is the better account of the risks associated with violence? Whose view of their personal security, the American or Colombian, is the most accurate? Risk and resilience are never phenomena that are simply objective fact. They are entangled in the collective ideologies of people and their communities.
If we look closely at the risk and resilience literature, there are quiet discourses that tell a different story about the health status of at-risk populations and the unique mechanisms that promote well-being. For example, in the West, we are coming to understand that our efforts to mitigate all risk in children's lives might inadvertently be removing meaningful rites of passage through which children experience manageable risk. Perhaps we would do well to remember “that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger.” Improving children's well-being is never as simple as removing risk from children's lives (Ungar, 2002).
We need to listen better. This volume is about providing a space for voices that are less often heard and, indeed, have been all but absent from discussions on resilience. Clearly, the contributors to the following chapters argue that resilience is not an individual characteristic alone. Nor is it only a process. Resilience occurs when the personal meets the political, when the resources we need for health are available so we can realize our potential. Resilience is as much a quality of my family, community, and culture as it is something inside me or a process I engage in. It is only because of a Western psychological discourse that we think more about the individual than the communal. Even when we acknowledge the agentic qualities of a child who thrives, we mustn't overlook the access that child experiences to health resources, including a collective discourse that defines the child's pattern of coping as resilient. We need a com-munitization of health, understanding health as a communal experience. A well-resourced community, a caring family, meaningful roles for individuals, rites of passage, social equality, and access to education and health care are some of the conditions necessary for the individual to experience health. Strictly speaking, these factors are independent of the individual. And yet, they also result from the actions of healthy individuals who provide for others who are more vulnerable.
To say “I” am resilient is to be mistaken. The I of which we speak is a cultural artifact, a perspective that is social and historical, relational and constructed. Instead, we might better say, “There is resilience in this child and his or her community, family, and culture.” Resilience is simultaneously a quality of the individual and the individual's environment. To the extent that a child accesses communal health resources and finds opportunities to express individual resources, so too will resilience be experienced.
The implication of this way of thinking is that pathways to resilience must be adaptive and provide individuals with ways to negotiate for the health resources that are available. These resources can be diverse and include anything from attachments to others, self-efficacy, and a healthy sexual identity to safety and security and access to health care, food, and shelter. As this volume illustrates, children, youth, and adults globally enjoy differential access to these resources and exploit opportunities to overcome adversity in many different ways. However, the interplay between what is available and what is used is complicated. Simplistically, the provision of an opportunity that addresses risk is insufficient to change behavior unless the complexity of the problem and the construction of [Page xxv]the solutions by those involved are appreciated. This may be obvious, and yet, volumes of work on program fidelity emphasize the correct implementation of programs more than their contextualization.Contextual Sensitivity in Resilience Research
Luthar, Cicchetti, and Becker (2000) make a similar point in their analysis of the field of resilience research, which according to them has become quite muddled. They argue that studies of protective processes, for example, need to be contextually sensitive to understand the nature of the protective function each plays in different settings. Protective processes are not one-dimensional but interact with the settings in which they appear. As such, a single protective process such as staying in school or remaining attached to one's family through times of crisis may either stabilize an individual's health (preventing further exposure to risks associated with dropping out or becoming a street kid), enhance his or her health (build competence, both academically and socially), be a reactive way to counter a specific threat (the more a child is in school, the less time he or she has to get into trouble), or simply be a direct and proportional response to a threatening environment (staying in school and staying connected to one's kinship network increases chances to find employment and community acceptance later in life). Any single factor associated with resilience in any particular context will protect against risk only in ways meaningful to those whose lives are affected.
We are embracing this ambiguity more often. As Kaplan (1999) notes,
A major limitation of the concept of resilience is that it is tied to the normative judgments relating to particular outcomes. If the outcomes were not desirable, then the ability to reach the outcomes in the face of putative risk factors would not be considered resilience. Yet it is possible that the socially defined desirable outcome may be subjectively defined as undesirable, while the socially defined undesirable outcome may be subjectively defined as desirable. From the subjective point of view, the individual may be manifesting resilience, while from the social point of view the individual may be manifesting vulnerability, (pp. 31–32)
The onus is on the research community, in partnership with study participants, to look closer at what is a risk factor, a protective factor, or an outcome associated with resilience (see Rutter, 2001). It is no longer good enough to arbitrarily decide the definition of these aspects of resilience without the contextualization required to authenticate the meaning of the terms with those who participate in research. Even quantitative designs can do this, although mixed-method designs that employ rigorous qualitative work may be more amenable to the task. There is reason to be cautiously optimistic that we are getting better at embracing the ambiguity of the multiple pathways people travel to health.
Take, for example, the relatively unknown work by Morgan (1998). He examined the relationship between behavioral outcomes, as measured by the level of privileges attained, and resiliency factors in residential treatment among 92 children aged 7 to 15. Hypothesizing that an internal locus of control would be related to behavior associated with resilience, Morgan found instead a null finding. There was no significant correlation between children's pattern of internality or externality, whether they behaved in ways that showed they exercised self-control or defied authority. As Morgan explains,
It seems logical to suggest that, since internal locus of control is related to more successful outcomes in resiliency studies, that it may also be related to more successful, i.e. better level scores. It must be stressed that this remains only a conjecture, however, since it seems possible to also imagine the opposite direction of this relationship, that an internal locus of control, since it may suggest more of a sense of empowerment, may cause these children to, in fact, question and rebel against a well-defined set of rules and expectations precisely because they see themselves as having more options, as being more capable of effecting change compared to those children who are more externally oriented … who may just simply go along with the structure of the program because they feel rather powerless to change or manipulate the system, (p. 44)
[Page xxvi]Given the lack of significant findings, Morgan (1998) listens to his data speak and concludes that “a more resilient child might actually have poorer level scores if the nature of resiliency was to cause a child to fight a system” (p. 100). In other words, the contextual specificity of the residential setting makes an attribute like internality a potential threat to resilience despite the hypothesized link between internality and resilience. Clearly, the idea that resilience is an individual characteristic is no longer tenable. A wave of new resilience researchers is showing that resilience is as much a characteristic of the environment as it is an individual's capacity to exploit opportunities in that environment (see Knox, 2000).
Take, for example, the behavior of students who cut classes. The attribution by educators might be that these are wrongful acts on the part of students. But it also may be that students are resisting a system that has failed to educate them in a way amenable to their style of learning. Fallis and Opotow (2003) talk about the incongruity between adult expectations to attend school and the boredom students who skip class say they experience: “For students, boring connotes something missing in their education, conveys a deep sense of disappointment, and casts class cutting as a coping mechanism for classes that fail to engage” (p. 108). Here again, as in earlier examples, the interplay of context, the power to define one's world (discursive empowerment), and behavior or outcomes is intricate and not always evident outside the specific context in which research takes place.
If we broaden our scope to Colombia again, we can find similar discursive resistance documented by researchers like Felsman (1989) who, based on 300 semistructured interviews with street children under 16, heard them account for ganglike behavior in nonpathologizing ways: “Although the gallada's [gangs of street youth] involvements in crime and violence must be recognized and contended with, it must first be realized that these children do not band together to fight and steal; rather, they band together to meet primary physical and emotional needs not being addressed elsewhere” (p. 66).
A host of other researchers are pushing us to redefine risk and resilience within a contextually specific discourse. Martineau (1999), for example, examined the intertextuality of resilience studies through a meta-analysis of the language used in research reports. She finds that
obscured behind the well-meaning intentions of teaching resilience is a call for disadvantaged children and youth to conform to the behavioral norms of the dominant society (associated with social and school success) by overcoming or being invulnerable to the systemic distresses and adversities of their everyday lives, (p. 3)
This indictment of the system supports a notion of health as intricately linked to liberation. This overtly politicized understanding of resilience is neither common nor well documented. In part, this is because the dominant discourse of resilience researchers has to date been the psychologizing discourse of Western mental health researchers. Critically, Martineau argues:
The resiliency discourse imposes prescribed norms of school success and social success upon underprivileged children identified as at risk. The effect is that non-conforming individuals may be pathologized as non-resilient. Emphasis remains wholly on the individual and thus, individualism is a dominant ideology embedded in the mainstream resiliency discourse, (pp. 11–12)
Such studies reveal that the pathways children navigate toward healthy lifestyles are far from fixed, despite discursive hegemony that tells us what is and is not normative development.
Our capacity to appreciate localized discourses of resilience has hindered our fuller understanding of how people navigate pathways to health when seriously compromised by adversity. We have tended to predetermine outcomes, blinding ourselves to the indigenous, and often everyday, occurrences of resilience. It is this more contextually sensitive, indeed everyday, understanding of resilience that is the next challenge for resilience researchers. As McCubbin and his colleagues (McCubbin et al., 1999) have explained in regard to African American families,
Notwithstanding … negative realities, most minority families go on with the ordinary business [Page xxvii]of everyday living: raising and educating their children and grandchildren, caring for the elderly and infirm, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries, attending family reunions, and finding ways to make ends meet. As deeper understanding of resiliency is sought, perhaps a closer look at the ordinary might be instructive. For many racial and ethnic minority families, the ability to do the “ordinary” is in itself an extraordinary achievement. Daily functioning amidst negative realities requires a high level of motivation, commitment, tenacity and creativity, (p. 32)A New Understanding of Resilience
If resilience is going to be understood, it is going to be a messy affair. As Genero (1998) explains,
Studying resiliency within a context of relationships, variables such as class, gender, sexuality, and culture cannot be relegated to a background status. Nor can differences in the conceptual meaning of relationships, family, and cultural groups be ignored…. Although the use of both qualitative and quantitative data-gathering techniques may be desirable, it seems that an interdisciplinary, multimethod approach may generate the most exciting data. (pp. 44–15)
Sadly, this mixed-methods approach is seldom employed. Worse, we as a research community have hesitated to complicate our studies with the numerous confounding variables we would require to situate resilience within the context of each population studied.
Take for example a study by D'Abreu, Mullis, and Cook (1999) of street children in Brazil and the relationship between the quality and quantity of social support and the child's ability to adapt to street life, find food, and form attachments. Remarkably, their study found that there was no relationship between the dependent and independent variables. The results, which were based solely on quantitative data gathering, leave more questions unanswered than answered. We are left with the vaguely disconcerting thought that the research team approached its work with the certainty that they would find something without understanding the localized constructions of the concepts indigenous to the children themselves. This openness to multiple constructions of core research terms by participants is not meant to create an epistemological vacuum typical of extreme positions in postmodernism. Not all truths will be equally privileged, but all truths may have a constituency of one and often more. The researcher who wants to understand individual and collective constructions of concepts such as resilience among marginalized populations will need to enter the world of discourse analysis. In theoretically murky spaces, the goal of inquiry must be partially consultation rather than consensus building or, perhaps worse, ethnocentric and premature generalization.
This volume is a step forward in this regard. It is an attempt to bring together well-considered arguments about what creates resilience in at-risk populations of children around the world. In one way, it seeks a tentative consensus, a tacit agreement that we can all speak about resilience as if the term is held in common. It is, of course, not. Instead, if one scratches the surface, one will find in these chapters a plurality of understandings of how we understand children's health, how we study it, and how we intervene to promote well-being amid a wide range of challenging life circumstances. The result is a pastiche, a collection of related bits brought together in a stunning collage. To bring some order to this enterprise, the book is divided into three sections, theory, research methods, and finally, practice. Each section is introduced briefly below with an overview of the chapters it contains.
Contained in this collection, then, are many perspectives not common among resilience researchers or among those who have tried to apply the concept of resilience to practice with at-risk populations across cultures and contexts. Venturing into uncharted territory has necessarily meant bringing together scholars and practitioners, advocates and community organizers, researchers and policymakers, both known and unknown, to the field. If this volume appears at moments slightly uneven in its presentation, it is because it has pulled together such a divergent group of authors under the same cover. The result is a collection of voices that have been more or less privileged. Together, however, we [Page xxviii]demonstrate that resilience is more than an individual set of characteristics. It is the structures around the individual, the services the individual receives, the way health knowledge is generated, all of which combine with characteristics of individuals that allow them to overcome the adversity they face and chart pathways to resilience.
Perhaps in the juxtaposition of our work, the embracing of our own diversity as authors, we will move a little closer to identifying something that we all hold in common, a deeper understanding of what makes children healthy when growing up facing multiple risk factors. In that moment of synergy, there is the possibility that our appreciation of our diversity will give us a glimpse of that which is universal even as we celebrate the local.Implications for Theory
In the first section of this volume, contributors examine how resilience is theorized and the need, if any, for change. Each chapter offers some less common perspective on the construct of resilience, pushing our conceptualization of the foundations of resilience-related research and practice. This work follows in the wake of others who have hinted at the need to look beyond the skewed, subjective bias of researchers. Take, for example, those who have challenged us to see beyond our dichotomous thinking that classifies communities as either high or low risk. Moving beyond the dichotomous thinking of inner-city human ecologies that overlook aspects of health, a number of researchers have explored the strengths of these communities, which are the direct result of the chaos people experience living there (Nelson & Wright, 1995). In such instances, the steeling effect of community stressors may actually enhance capacities that are invisible to outsiders.
Theoretically sound resilience research and interventions are similar. They must demonstrate an understanding of the warp and weave of communities that knit themselves together to achieve health. A good example was provided by Brodsky (1996) who studied 10 African American single mothers living in high-risk communities. Brodsky demonstrated that a psychological sense of community (PSOC), normally associated with measures of resilience, was in this case shown to be negatively associated with health among the women. Although interveners might bring with them as outsiders to these women's lives the belief that fostering community is a way to address the community's problems, they would actually be putting these particular women's sense of well-being more at risk because of the myopia of the theory from which they operate. Brodsky shows that the negative aspects of a PSOC far outweigh any well-intentioned outsider's positive connotation of the concept. She explains that given the atmosphere in those communities, resources, and the nature of community membership, the women in her study talked about how they maintain boundaries, avoid personal investments with others, hold common symbols of independence, and avoid emotional connections with others outside their families as strategies to protect themselves and their families from the chaos around them. It was, according to the women, a successful way to maintain health and security.
This volume strives to explore similarly different perspectives on the theory of resilience. The intention is to contribute a broader, more contextually sensitive way of conceptualizing health in at-risk populations.The Chapters
The section begins with Boyden and Mann's (Chapter 1) global perspective on children's coping in majority-world contexts. Their work challenges our notions of what makes a child resilient, suggesting that although resilience may be a useful metaphor, we must attend far more to the specific cultural contexts in which children survive and thrive. Specifically, we must look as much at the meaning that children and their communities create for the social and developmental threats they encounter as at the political systems that do or do not meet children's needs. Boyden and Mann's extensive experience in countries as diverse as Thailand, Nepal, Tanzania, and the Balkans helps to show the plurality of understandings among children of what sustains their health under adverse circumstances.
[Page xxix]Next, Laurie McCubbin and Hamilton McCubbin (Chapter 2) broaden our understanding of family resilience by focusing on aspects of culture and ethnic identity as important components of their family resilience model. The authors draw from research on families, trauma, and resilience and from anthropology, sociology, and feminist studies to reveal the importance of culture and ethnic identity as critical components of a relational perspective of family resilience in the face of trauma. The authors' ancestral ties to and immersion in Polynesian culture lay a foundation for their systematic study of resilience.
In the next chapter, Joyce West Stevens (Chapter 3) examines whether the notion of risk and resilience can inform our understanding of marginalized populations, specifically African American youth in inner-city communities challenged by unsafe environments, economic problems, and few social resources. Concluding that both constructs are useful, West Stevens proposes that an ecological framework that focuses attention on the intersection of persons, process, and social context will best help us to understand the lives of these marginalized youth. Learning from these youth, she shows that they can educate us as to what youth need to survive adverse environments and that youth are helped most when attributes associated with resilience are supported.
In Jane Gilgun and Laura Abrams's chapter (Chapter 4), the authors propose that resilience be understood as the expression of cultural and gendered norms. Challenging the dominance of what is and is not a sign of healthy functioning, they show through a study with violent individuals that processes associated with interpersonal violence can in some instances contribute to an “awkward but effective” way that vulnerable poorly resourced individuals experience health. Resilience is thereby understood as something individuals strive for even if their path is deviant or disordered when judged by others. In their chapter, Gilgun and Abrams analyze perpetrators' adaptations to adversity, looking at their gendered beliefs, roles, and strategies.
In the next chapter, Jacqueline McAdam-Crisp, Lewis Aptekar, and Wanjiku Kironyo (Chapter 5) provide a framework for understanding street children and their ways of sustaining resilience through nonconventional lives lived in the street. Street children in both the minority and majority world are discussed in detail, with a rich number of examples from research and interventions. McAdam-Crisp and her colleagues show both intrigue and puzzlement regarding the capacities of these children to overcome adversity. Under their scrutiny, risk chains that might be thought to compromise children (including child labor, leaving home, and even prostitution) are shown in contextually specific instances to provide some of these children with a way to survive better than they would off the street.
Ira Prilleltensky and Ora Prilleltensky (Chapter 6) move the discussion to the level of the professional intervening to promote wellness and resilience in marginalized populations, such as people with disabilities. They show that we need change in how we have understood the role of the psychologist, social worker, and other helping professionals. Interventions must necessarily be more influential in the sphere of social justice. Their argument is that wellness and resilience cannot “take hold” unless both are rooted in “socially just communities and processes.” Both psychological and political influences are needed to create change at the level of individuals and their communities. To date, this critical and transformational focus has not been a large part of professional discourse by those employed to help vulnerable children, youth, and families.
In the next chapter, Cindy Blackstock and Nico Trocmé (Chapter 7) use their examination of the reasons behind the disproportionate removal of Aboriginal children from their families as a way to argue that risk to children comes from structural forces outside children's immediate families. Using data from the Canadian Incidence Study on Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, they provide evidence to support an argument that we must necessarily address structural barriers such as inequitable service access if we are to create culturally appropriate conditions for children to overcome risks associated with maltreatment.
In the last chapter of this section, Fred Besthorn (Chapter 8) advances our understanding of the conditions necessary for resilience even further. He offers a novel understanding of [Page xxx]one aspect of resilience that has been largely overlooked by researchers: the child's interaction with his or her natural environment. Besthorn shows that the ontological and epistemológica! insularity of the human development and resilience fields, embedded as they are in Western modernity, have caused us to ignore the importance of our experiences with the natural world and their contribution to health outcomes.Implications for Research
Achieving a more contextually relevant understanding of resilience will require methods for research that reflect advances in health research already underway in the social sciences. Although beyond the scope of this volume to explore fully the debate over which methods are most appropriate to what kind of research, the bias of most contributors to this volume is toward some type of mixed-method approach to resilience research. The need for contextualization of concepts and instruments, combined with the need for “thickly” described lives to see resilience in lives lived under adversity, makes it most likely that as valuable as quantitative approaches can be, they require a qualitative component as well (Galambos & Leadbeater, 2000). The nuts and bolts of how one actually integrates these two approaches, however, remains hotly debated (Miller & Crabtree, 2000).
Although debate continues, it appears that multiple-method designs, or at the very least the aggregated findings from studies within diverse research paradigms, both qualitative and quantitative, will provide the most comprehensive picture of resilience. As Tashakkori and Teddlie (2003) argue in their discussion of mixed-method approaches to research, such research
is mixed in many or all stages of the study (questions, research methods, data collection and analysis, and the inference process)…. Therefore, one of the assumptions of such research is that it is indeed possible to have two paradigms, or two worldviews, mixed throughout a single research project, (p. 11)
The result is much more diversity in the data and what they can tell us. The mixed-method approach routinely combines different paradigms. It is not simply that one does a focus group, a form of qualitative inquiry, to validate an instrument. The researcher goes further, combining both realist or value-neutral perspectives with the value-engaged constructionist and subjective position of complementary research paradigms (Greene & Caracelli, 2003). In particular, mixed-method designs are noted for their contribution to cross-cultural research where cultural distance demands researchers deconstruct their standpoint vis-á-vis research participants and the culture under study (Moghaddam, Walker, & Harré, 2003).
None of these design advances, however, lets us avoid the thorny issues that complicate resilience research when it is attentive to contextual variation. The best these new methods do is allow us to engage more effectively in the debate. Critics from both research paradigms, quantitative and qualitative, recognize that they will have to do far more with the tools they have available if they are to adapt their methods to myriad different contexts (see, e.g., Glantz & Sloboda, 1999).
The complexity of our research is likely to get worse the better we get at documenting resilience-related phenomena. This is not a field for those who like order. It is more like reading a great epic novel where one is never, indeed if ever, quite certain what a single event means to the overall experience of a character. Furthermore, if this complexity makes research difficult, the need to account for multiple constructions of health across global contexts makes it positively unwieldy. This is very similar to Cohen and his colleagues (Cohen, Cimbolic, Armeli, & Hettler, 1998) who have characterized the field of research on “thriving,” principally concerned with adults who have suffered traumatic life events, as “unsophisticated” because of the methods employed and in particular the inability of researchers who as of yet have failed to account for the variability in how participants define benefits or gains associated with health.
Under the weight of such critiques, researchers are obligated to embrace complexity and account for localized constructions of health phenomena. In this endeavor, either set of methods can become the principal tool when enhanced by the other. Far from a distant goal, [Page xxxi]such complementarity in design is now evident in many forums. As Madill and her colleagues (Madill, Jordan, & Shirley, 2000) observe, there has been a shift in tolerance for alternative epistemológica! orientations to research among psychologists, a shift easily seen in nursing, social work, medicine, and other disciplines as well. Maddill et al. observe that
few psychologists today espouse a strict logical positivist in which knowledge is understood to be demonstrated through its direct correspondence with observed events and research methods modelled on those of the hard sciences. In practice, a range of post-positivist epistemologies are utilized which recognize an element of interpretation and metaphor in the production of social scientific theories and findings, (p. 1)
Interpretation? Metaphor? These are landscapes of conflict under less ideal circumstances. The contributors to this section navigate these same epistemologically troubling waters, providing bridges to collaboration across research paradigms.The Chapters
It's appropriate, then, to begin this reflection on methods with a chapter by William Barton (Chapter 9). Barton critiques resilience research to date, acknowledging that its greatest strength has been shifting our attention to health and the ecological context in which that health occurs. However, there remain daunting methodological and theoretical challenges. Although he shows the potential value of both quantitative and qualitative methods and reviews many exemplary studies in both research traditions, he concludes that a symbolic interactionist approach to resilience is the most needed at this juncture because we still have not entirely comprehended the missing piece in most developmental theory, including resilience theory, that being the mechanism that best explains peoples' successful behavior despite exposure to risk. Quantitative designs that accomplish this have tended to be longitudinal and expensive and risk attrition in their sample. What's more, they may overlook the meaning and cultural specificity needed to understand a health-related construct such as resilience. Although qualitative studies bring with them their own limitations, most notably a lack of generalizability (in preference for transferability and other criteria of authenticity), Barton argues we need more of them before we can carry on with quantitative work on this theme.
In the next chapter, Eli Teram and I (Chapter 10) look specifically at the contributions qualitative research can make to resilience research that is more politicized, ideological, and culturally grounded. However, as we point out, although qualitative methods offer the hope that they can make transparent the researcher's bias, perhaps preventing research from being misappropriated by neoconservatives who would have us believe resilience is something inside a child, just waiting for the child to express, qualitative research too can be problematic. Although qualitative methods might be useful to resilience research, interpretative challenges abound. The chapter concludes with an examination of how the better integration of qualitative methods can make resilience research more politically relevant and informing of public policy.
Taking a very different approach, John LeBlanc, Pam Talbott, and Wendy Craig (Chapter 11) look at the limits of epidemiológica! data, exploring the problems inherent in research that has tried to answer the question, “How are the world's children and youth faring with regard to their psychosocial health?” Their work highlights both the complexities and shortcomings of an epidemiológica! perspective, discussing the difficulties of measuring a multidimensional construct such as resilience and health. Using international data, they examine what we do know about the psychosocial health of youth while demonstrating both the strengths and limitations of the research that produced those findings.
In the next chapter, Laura Camfield and Allister McGregor (Chapter 12) explore how we research well-being in majority-world contexts. Specifically, they offer indicators of how research on well-being is seeking to integrate both objective and subjective approaches to how we understand experiences of poverty and how those experiences are reproduced. They show that it is important that we bring together a range of academic disciplines if we are to [Page xxxii]understand how people achieve a sense of themselves as resilient, a proxy term in Camfield and McGregor's work for happy. Resilience is something people create for themselves and that they rely on structures around them to create. However, there is typically a gap between people's own evaluations of their lives and what others see as their material well-being. Methodologically, Camfield and McGregor raise a number of important questions regarding the obligation of researchers to examine the nature of people's own constructions of their poverty and disadvantage. Rather than being dismissive of what these people have to say, their chapter argues people's appraisals are not the product of misinformation or poor judgment but elaborate schemes reflecting people's aspirations and strategies to survive or perhaps even thrive.
The following chapter by Linda Liebenberg and I (Chapter 13) details how one goes about researching resilience across cultures and contexts. Our experience designing and implementing the International Resilience Project, a multisite, mixed-method interdisciplinary study in 14 sites globally, provides an account of the real-world problems researchers encounter working cross-culturally. There is little, however, written to guide researchers in the specifics of how to conduct such work. In this chapter, the nitty-gritty of the perils and pitfalls of such collaborations are explored, with specific details provided regarding how to host a meeting to design a multisite study and the negotiations necessary to find consensus on how children's health should be studied.Implications for Practice
Well-considered theory regarding the nature of resilience generated from innovative and rigorous research methods can inform different practice applications. Approaching interventions to ameliorate conditions that threaten children and youth's well-being from an understanding of resilience orients clinical treatment, programming, community work, and policy initiatives in potentially novel directions. With few exceptions, however, these initiatives are seldom grouped under the heading “building resilience” (see Ungar, 2004; Walsh, 1998). They are, nevertheless, increasingly informed by the burgeoning literature on resilience.
Practice that builds resilience is multidimensional. Resilience is not an individual trait. Huang (2003) puts it succinctly: “We need to integrate the impact of disparities into our mental health care of children.” In fact, interventions that address singular dimensions of health such as self-esteem or issues of child labor can actually result in negative consequences for children. There is, for example, evidence that antibullying programs in school that show children the negative aspects of bullying actually create pro-bullying attitudes in children who feel powerless and are seeking ways to increase their self-esteem (Rahey & Craig, 2002). Sutton, Smith, and Swettenham (1999) argue that approaches to violence prevention in schools that fail to recognize aspects of health among bullies will simply not work:
It is important to realize that some bullying children do have power, and that they can misuse this power in ways advantageous to them (in some circumstances). For some, this power takes a social rather than physical form, and such bullies are undoubtedly skilled at achieving interpersonal goals. They would probably not see their behavior as incompetent or maladaptive, and there is evidence that it often is not. (p. 133)
Although we would evidently prefer that children not bully others in their efforts to feel powerful, we cannot intervene assuming that they are incompetent. Such ungrounded, biased approaches to intervention obscure the health-sustaining behaviors of troubled children. Only when bullies are offered socially desirable outlets for their particular competencies will we see changes in their behavior. A more holistic understanding of the way children sustain health would help to avoid erroneous program design. What we now understand about resilience requires us to think more broadly about any type of interventions that address children's exposure to risk.
Once one shifts focus and understands how children in different contexts search for resilience, one understands that intended outcomes from interventions result only when our actions are grounded on the knowledge of the culture [Page xxxiii]and context of those with whom we intervene. But how grounded? How specific do we need to be when we tailor interventions? There is after all a lack of homogeneity even among marginalized populations. As Dupree, Spencer, and Bell (1997) discuss in relation to self-esteem in black adolescent boys in the United States, a case-by-case and situation-specific approach is required if one is to promote resilience in children in unique circumstances. Although they speak of generic processes such as encouraging “help-seeking strategies and greater social mobility” (p. 258), which will enable many to survive in their home environments, they caution that the mistake we make is to not fully appreciate the unique constellation of resources available to support these strategies.
Because resilience is becoming an increasingly complex term to understand, problema-tizing our discourse on health, we see that interventions at the level of policy are as necessary as interventions targeting individuals and families. Not surprising, Queiro-Tajalli and Campbell (2003) link organizing strategies and community development with the growth in resilience among specific populations. Resilient communities mobilize to secure resources, one aspect of this mobilization being to find others who will provide mutual support and develop a movement of resistance that fosters structural change. These are lofty goals, but they are just as integral to a resilience-based approach to practice as the more immediate treatment goals of direct practice and prevention programs. As Tully (2002) writes, “There is a constant dynamic interrelationship between the development of public policy (as a response to human need), human behavior (as defined and supported by public policy), and resilience (as a positive coping mechanism related to adapting to ongoing change)” (p. 330).
When it comes to interventions, one size no longer fits all. As Crowel (2003) has pointed out, it is no longer possible to speak of evidence-based practice when we move interventions into ethnically diverse communities. Instead, we might more accurately speak only of “promising practices” that may be judged to fit with a particular population at risk.
In this section, a diverse group of authors from around the world offer their examples of interventions to build resilience with at-risk populations. The result is a pastiche of writing, varied but coherent when viewed from afar. There is much to advance our thinking here, with many different interventions advanced as multiple pathways through the swampy chaos of lives lived under adversity.The Chapters
The section begins with work by Zahava Solomon and Avital Laufer (Chapter 14) from Israel who relate the findings of a study of responses by Jewish Israeli children to terror. Surveying almost 3,000 adolescents, aged 13 to 15, from 11 schools in Israel, Solomon and Laufer report that on the whole, Israeli teens cope well with the terror they experience, demonstrating resilience both in the way they deal with the trauma and in how they use that exposure to trauma as an opportunity for growth. Embedded in this study are many clues for those who choose to intervene with youth exposed to war and violence, including evidence that social support, ideological commitment, and religiosity all play a role in both mitigating the effects of violence and enhancing psychological growth and coping. However, as Solomon and Laufer explain, the relationship between these factors is complex, with health-enhancing effects being different for youth with different experiences and different beliefs.
The next chapter approaches the problem of intervention differently. Philip Cook and Lesley du Toit (Chapter 15) examine children's resilience when confronted with the challenge of HIV/AIDS in communities in South Africa. They discuss the Circles of Care, a community capacity-building project, as an example of culturally grounded action research and a way of supporting child and community resilience. Highlighting the fit between the project and indigenous African cultural values, beliefs, and practices, they show that children's resilience depends on the promotion of healthy human development resulting from child, peer, family, and social factors embedded in each child's social ecology.
Marion Brown and Marc Colbourne (Chapter 16) next look at a very different context and the survival strategies of youth there. They examine [Page xxxiv]the experiences of lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth (LGB) who cope with homophobia and heterosexism. Brown and Colbourne show that the behaviors of this population, frequently assumed to be signs of psychic distress, mental illness, or other social problems, have seldom been recognized as the legitimate, indeed at times, only ways these youth can respond to and resist their oppression. Resilience is found when these youth manage to navigate around the prejudice they experience. Brown and Colbourne, through discussion of a youth project targeted at meeting the needs of LGB youth, provide rich examples of resilience among this population as they engage in ongoing negotiations between themselves and their environments. Despite a societal context full of problems, both structural and ideological, and precarious family environments, these youth regularly locate the personal and community resources they need to succeed.
Many of the chapters also look at families, their form and function, as one factor in the healthy development of children. Alean Al-Krenawi and Vered Slonim-Nevo (Chapter 17) report on a study of 352 Bedouin children from Israel from both monogamous and polygamous families. Theirs is an interesting story to tell, with Al-Krenawi and Slonim-Nevo hypothesizing that children from polygamous families would report more problems psychologically, socially, educationally, and within their families than children from monogamous families. Their intent is to show that different family forms affect the well-being of children differently. They show that although polygamy may once have been a family form that functioned well, the current reality of urbanization and consumerism that is changing Bedouin society seems to be making polygamous families less successful in terms of securing their children's well-being. Romanticism aside, culturally specific family forms appear to need to adapt as children's broader social environments change as well.
The theme of family functioning as a factor in resilience among children is elaborated on in the next chapter by Barbara Friesen and Eileen Brennan (Chapter 18). Friesen and Brennan explore the resilience-building mechanisms found within families and the broader ecological and specifically community contexts within which families live. Their work details the need for stable supportive communities that provide for the cultural continuity of those living there. In exploring these themes, they examine the child-community relationship, as influenced by the child-family relationship, documenting programs that build the structural conditions for resilience through quality child care arrangements, after-school and mentoring programs, and community-centered, youth development programs.
Next Kwai-yau Wong and Tak-yan Lee (Chapter 19) examine youth at risk in Hong Kong in the 1990s and report on a significant innovation in service delivery that involved the adoption of a screening mechanism in the school system for early identification and intervention. This mechanism was adapted from one used with Canadian youth. While reporting on the Understanding the Adolescent Project (UAP), Wong and Lee identify the inadequacies inherent in its theoretical framework. In particular, they explore the lack of a culture-specific dimension to the UAR A critical read of the literature, both Western and Chinese, provides a cultural lens through which to reexamine the UAR offering educators, social workers, and mental health counselors on the front lines with at-risk youth in Hong Kong an alternative professional discourse focused on prevention and health from a uniquely Chinese perspective.
Continuing to elaborate on this theme of resilience as dependent as much on social structures as on individual characteristics, Thomas and Menamparampil's chapter on the young people of North East India (Chapter 20) explores the complicated patterns of coping among youth who face the dual threats of poverty and armed militancy. Although their lives are difficult, youth in this remote part of India demonstrate a constellation of coping strategies aided by structural conditions that facilitate their development. In particular, Thomas and Menamparampil discuss one exemplar of community development for youth, a faith-based organization, Don Bosco, which has as its mission to educate and train youth who are marginalized. Although seldom discussed in the literature on resilience, Thomas and Menamparampil argue that faith-based organizations seed youth resilience through programs as wide [Page xxxv]ranging as literacy, peace education, vocational schools, and workshops on self-esteem.
In the next chapter, Ken Barter (Chapter 21) moves the discussion from how community agencies contribute to resilience to what government services can and should do to promote health in at-risk children. His work discusses barriers to promoting protective factors in the lives of children who receive child protection services. Barter suggests alternatives to the formal bureaucratic support provided by government systems that might better strengthen protective factors and positive outcomes for children. His work demonstrates from a Canadian perspective that an important part of marginalized children's pathways to resilience includes pathways through the formal service delivery systems mandated to protect them. His message is that we have alternatives that work, that build community, and that address the systemic barriers, such as poverty and social injustice, that affect children adversely.
As an example of alternatives to standard practices in child welfare, Nancy MacDonald, Joan Glode, and Fred Wien (Chapter 22) examine in their chapter approaches to family and children's services rooted in Aboriginal traditions in Canada. In particular, they explore custom adoptions and family group conferencing as ways of avoiding Eurocentric child welfare practices, such as adopting children out to white families, that have contributed to cultural genocide. Their work, focused on the Mi'kmaq communities of Nova Scotia, looks at how provincial, territorial, and federal levels of government in Canada have or have not changed legislation and implementation of child welfare laws to protect the rights of Aboriginal children. Their work is an example of how structures and policies (a) set the conditions to add to the risks faced by marginalized populations or (b) are designed to provide the conditions for resilience to emerge. They argue that child justice and child welfare bodies that understand the importance of using interventions that reflect traditional worldviews of Aboriginal peoples are likely to be those that are most successful in sustaining the well-being of these children.
From child welfare, we move to education. Alexander Makhnach and Anna Laktionova (Chapter 23) explore resilience among contemporary Russian youth with a special focus on both child protection and educational forces that influence children's positive outcomes in a society in transition. They review the personality characteristics found among Russian youth and families that contribute to resilience and explore the role played by communities and social institutions to strengthening qualities associated with resilience among youth. In particular, they look at how the Russian educational system is providing children and families with the interventions required to sustain them through this time of social change.
Shifting the focus back to the minority world, Mary Armstrong, Beth Stroul, and Roger Boothroyd (Chapter 24) compare the closely related constructs of systems of care and resilience. Their argument, like those of their colleagues who precede them, is that these concepts intersect. Resilience depends on structural conditions, in particular the way formal and informal systems respond to children's needs. They present a historical overview of the resilience literature and then contrast it with the similarities and differences in what we understand about systems of care for children in need. Their work points to the benefits for policymakers, planners, and researchers examining systems of care and child resilience to be aware of advances in both fields and the potential of each body of literature to inform policy, system planning, and research efforts.
Broadening our perspective further, Scotney Evans and Isaac Prilleltensky (Chapter 25) write about youth civic engagement (YCE) and its potential impact on the well-being of youth. Their argument is based on a contention that neither wellness nor resilience can be fully understood or promoted without accounting for power differentials between youth and adults and the broader social structures that adults control. However, there needs to be caution in how this engagement is undertaken. Evans and Prilleltensky explain that youth can just as easily be manipulated or cast as token agents of social control by adult-engineered systems that abuse the idealism of youth. Without a power analysis, Evans and Prilleltensky argue, YCE may pose more perils than promise.
In a very different context, these same challenges are addressed in the chapter by Toine van Teeffelen, Hania Bitar, and Saleem Habash [Page xxxvi](Chapter 26) who detail both the adversities Palestinians face and the consequences of those adversities to the mental health of youth growing up in the Occupied Territories. Unlike many other accounts of Palestinian youth, however, this chapter examines evidence of the resilience to be found among Palestinian youth. After discussing personal, familial, and cultural resources that sustain resilience, van Teeffelen, Bitar, and Habash consider how a development organization, the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA), can create conditions that bolster resilience among youth. PYALARA provides both social interventions such as mentoring programs and different forms of youth-oriented media to give youth a voice in the political decision-making process.
The next chapter by Wanda Thomas Bernard and David Este (Chapter 27) examines the context within which young African Canadian males navigate through the challenges they face and the personal, family, community, and spiritual resources they use to overcome the systemic prejudice and structural disadvantage they experience. Bernard and Este examine these challenges to young African Canadian males, particularly in the areas of education and employment. They then apply Hill's (1998) resiliency model developed for African Americans to the African Canadians. Their chapter concludes with reflections on resilience collected from 30 males who discuss both their experiences of success and marginalization.
Concluding the book is a chapter by Luis Duque and his colleagues (Chapter 28) who bring us fully back to the challenge this volume addresses: What does resilience look like across cultures and contexts, and how do we promote it? In this chapter, Duque and his coauthors explore the Early Prevention of Aggression Project that was implemented in Medellin, Colombia, based on design elements from Canada and the United States. The chapter examines the challenges faced when projects in majority-world settings that seek to create the structural conditions for resilience to emerge are adapted from minority-world contexts where the bulk of the scholarship and implementation has taken place. Specifically, the chapter reviews findings from the first phases of an evaluation of outcomes, with a special focus on how well the project was implemented and fidelity to the model when it is employed in communities far more dangerous and far less resourced than those in more economically developed nations. Far from showing that “one size fits all,” the chapter shows that different settings provide children very different challenges to health that require different measures to promote resilience.
It is an appropriate place to conclude the book, with the argument for a more contextual understanding of resilience, one that acknowledges the structural, as well as the personal factors that foster resilience, demonstrated on a large scale in a context far beyond that normally discussed in the resilience literature. 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About the Editor[Page 501]
Michael Ungar is both a social worker and marriage and family therapist with experience working directly with children and adults in mental health, educational, and correctional settings. Now Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada, he continues to supervise and consult extensively with educators, guidance counselors, and other professionals in Canada, the United States, and overseas. He has conducted many workshops internationally on resilience-related themes relevant to the treatment and study of at-risk youth and has published dozens of peer-reviewed articles on resilience and work with children and their families. He is also the author of two books: Playing at Being Bad, a book for parents, and Nurturing Hidden Resilience in Troubled Youth, for family therapists. Dr. Ungar holds numerous research grants from national funding bodies and is a collaborator on several international research projects as well. Currently, he leads a study titled Methodological and Contextual Challenges Researching Childhood Resilience: An International Collaboration that includes researchers from 10 countries on five continents.[Page 502]
About the Contributors[Page 503]
Laura S. Abrams is Assistant Professor of Social Work in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is interested in social context influences on youth identity, self-perceptions, and risk behaviors. Her current project is an ethnographic study of cultures of correctional institutions for youthful male offenders. This project explores how these institutions construct masculine identities, how offenders view their treatment, and how these institutions prepare youth for transitions home.
Saleem Al-Habash was born in 1982 and is now the managing editor of the Youth Times. He was one of the founding members of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA), where he has volunteered and worked since 1998. He is completing his bachelor degree in journalism and political Science from the University of Birziet and is a freelance writer for the Al-Ayyam daily newspaper. He lives in Ramallah.
Alean Al-Krenawi is Associate Professor in and Chairman of the Spitzer Department of Social Work at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. His area of research is multicultural social work and mental health with particular interest on indigenous peoples. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles in the area of social work and mental health with the Arab societies in the Middle East, over 20 book chapters, and several books. His most recent project is the preparation of a book on Islam and social work.
Lewis Aptekar is currently Professor of Counselor Education at San Jose State University. Some of his academic awards include Fulbright scholarships (Colombia, Swaziland, Honduras), a position as Nehru Visiting Professor, and a scholarly residency at the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Study and Conference Center (Italy). His has written two books, Street Children of Cali and Environmental Disasters in Global Perspective, and more than 50 articles and chapters. He is currently working on a manuscript titled Human Rights and Survival in an Ethiopian Refugee Camp.
Mary I. Armstrong has over 20 years experience in children's behavioral health, public sector managed care, children's health insurance, and child welfare and social services. She is currently Assistant Professor and Director of the Division of State and Local Support, Department of Child and Family Studies at the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, University of South Florida. She is responsible for the administration of the Division of State and Local Support and of evaluation and research activities. Her current activities include a national study of public sector managed care and its effects on children with serious emotional problems, child welfare privatization, the impact of welfare reform on the adolescent daughters of enrollees, and financing mechanisms for systems of care. During 2002, she was appointed as a member of the national Outcomes Roundtable for Children and Families. She has many publications in both professional journals and textbooks.
Ken Barter is Professor and former Chair in Child Protection with the School of Social Work, Memorial University of Newfoundland. His research has been in the field of public child welfare, child protection, administration, and social work. He has published numerous book chapters, journal articles, research reports, and conference proceedings and presented to audiences at provincial, national, and international conferences.
[Page 504]William H. Barton is Professor and Director of Research Services at the Indiana University School of Social Work in Indianapolis. Following 8 years of postdoctoral research at the Institute for Social Research and the Center for the Study of Youth Policy, both at the University of Michigan, he joined the faculty of the Indiana University School of Social Work where he has worked since 1993. He teaches courses in juvenile justice policy, program evaluation research methods, and the philosophy of science. His research interests include juvenile justice, delinquency prevention and youth development issues, and the applied methodologies of program evaluation and needs assessment. In addition to several journal articles and book chapters, his publications include two books—Reforming Juvenile Detention (coedited with Ira Schwartz) and Closing Institutions for Juvenile Offenders (with Denise Gottfredson).
Wanda Thomas Bernard is Associate Professor and Director of the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. She has a particular interest in antiracist and anti-oppressive social work theory and practice. Much of her professional study and work pursuits have focused on race, racism, and racial uplift. She and her colleague, David Este, are currently undertaking a major research project on the intersection of violence, racism, and health, a 5-year, multisite, national project funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health.
Fred H. Besthorn is Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa. He has written extensively on the development of a framework for integrating deep ecological awareness with social work policy and strengths-based practice. This involves research on the relationship between environmental degradation and its social, economic, and spiritual impact on disadvantaged populations. He is the creator of the Global Alliance for a Deep-Ecological Social Work. This unique organization unites social workers around the world sharing a commitment to incorporating deep environmental awareness into traditional social work practice and the founder of Earth Consciousness: The Journal of Environmental Social Work and Human Services—the first online journal of its kind devoted exclusively to the creative works of social workers and human service professionals who care deeply for the natural world.
Hania Bitar is the founder and Director General of the Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA). In 1997, she established and edited the Youth Times—the first Palestinian youth newspaper— which developed into a 24-page monthly with an outreach of 200,000 youth readers. With a background in literature from the Catholic University (USA), she started her professional career as a teacher of English language at Bethlehem University and at the YAWCA in Jerusalem. She was awarded a Fulbright scholarship in 1992, was nominated as a Global Leader for Tomorrow in 2002 and Young Arab Leader in 2003. She is the author of several articles and has been a keynote speaker at a number of international conferences.
Cindy Blackstock is Executive Director, First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and Codirector of the Center of Excellence for Child Welfare. A member of the Gitksan Nation, she has worked in the field of child and family services for over 20 years. Key research interests include exploring the etiological drivers of child maltreatment in First Nations communities and the role of the voluntary sector and philanthropic organizations in expanding the range of culturally and community-based responses to child maltreatment.
Roger A. Boothroyd is Associate Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida. His background is in the field of educational psychology, specializing in measurement, evaluation, and research design. His current research interests include examining the impact of health care financing arrangements on members' access, outcomes and quality of care, welfare reforms and its effects on mothers and children, and research ethics. He has been a coprincipal investigator on grants funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
[Page 505]Jo Boyden is a social anthropologist and senior research officer at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford. For many years, she worked internationally as a social development consultant to a broad range of development and humanitarian relief agencies, governmental, nongovernmental and intergovernmental. This involved a mix of primary and secondary research, advocacy, training, planning, monitoring, and evaluation. Drawing mainly on fieldwork in South Asia, she is currently researching children's and adolescent's experiences of armed conflict and forced migration. The focus of this research is the development of theory and empirical evidence regarding risk, resilience, and coping in childhood; young people's economic, political, and social roles and responsibilities; intergenerational relations; and social and cultural constructions of childhood and youth.
Eileen M. Brennan is an applied psychologist with specialized training in human development. She has concentrated her recent scholarship on investigations of family support and the ways in which employed parents of children with emotional disorders fit work and family responsibilities together. She is Professor and Associate Dean of Social Work at Portland State University. For the last 10 years, she has also served as a principal investigator with the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health for studies of work-life integration and of inclusion of children with mental health disorders in child care settings. She has written and presented widely on the topics of social support, family support, and work-life issues and is currently coauthoring a book on family support and work-life integration with Julie M. Rosenzweig.
Marion Brown is a PhD student (social work) at Memorial University of Newfoundland and a lecturer at the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. Her social work practice has focused on community-based programming with youth populations. Her research interests include exploring gender identity negotiations and constructs of aggressive behaviors among young women in residential care through qualitative methods.
Laura Camfield is Research Officer for the UK ESRC-funded Research Group on Well-Being in Developing Countries (WeD) at the University of Bath. She is a qualitative researcher who also uses quantitative and participatory techniques to explore people's experiences. Her primary research interest is conceptualizing and measuring quality of life, but she has also published on narrative approaches to chronic illness and disability. She completed her PhD on measuring the quality of life of people with dystonia. Since the mid-1990s, she has also been engaged in research into the experiences of people living with multiple sclerosis, dystonia and intellectual disabilities, and the treatment and care of people with HIV/AIDS and imprisoned female foreign nationals.
Marc Colbourne is a master of social work student in the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. He worked for 10 years as Coordinator of Support Services at the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Youth Project and has recently begun a position with Canada World Youth, facilitating community development projects in Nova Scotia and Latin America.
Philip Cook is the founder and current Executive Director of the International Institute for Child Rights and Development. The Institute is part of the Centre for Global Studies at the University of Victoria and a recognized Canadian leader in community-based, national, regional, and international applications of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Since 1995, he has overseen the institute's growth as a leader in linking children's healthy development to broad issues of human development and participatory governance across diverse cultures and situational contexts.
Wendy M. Craig is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her research program focuses on bullying and victimization and on the development of aggression in young females. In recognition of her work on bullying and victimization, she recently won an Investigator Award from the Canadian Institute of Health Research. She has published widely in the area, including topics of bullying and victimization, peer processes, sexual harassment, and [Page 506]aggression in girls. Also, she is editor of a volume on childhood social development.
Luis F. Duque is a physician with a background in public health who taught epidemiology and research methods for nearly 15 years at two Colombian universities. He has conducted research projects on the epidemiology of violence in several Colombian cities, and he directed the first National Household Survey on Psychoactive Substance Use in Colombia. He also directed the design and preparation of the City of Medellin's Early Violence Prevention Program and was its first Director. He was also formerly the President of the University of Antioquia, Dean of its National School of Public Health, a Deputy Minister of Health, and Director of the National Institute of Health. He currently works as a researcher of the National School of Public Health, University of Antioquia and is President of the Direction Council of the Colombian Health Association.
Lesley du Toit is the Founder and Executive Director of the Child and Youth Care Agency for Development, a South African nongovernmental organization promoting children's full and healthy development. Her work has mainly been in the residential child care field and youth work where she has done direct care work, therapeutic work with troubled children, teaching and supervising of child care workers, curriculum development for degree programs in child and youth care, and more recently, policy and legislative reform for the South African Government from 1995 to 2001. She has received numerous national and international awards for her programming and policy work with children and has advised various national governments on issues of child welfare and HIV/AIDS.
Dave Este is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Calgary. His teaching and research interests include social work practice with immigrants and refugees, management of nonprofit organizations, qualitative research methods, and mental health.
Scot D. Evans is a doctoral student in the Community Research and Action program at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He has extensive practical experience in community-based organizations as a youth development worker, family counselor, youth program developer, program evaluator, and organizational consultant. Currently, his research is focused on the role of human service organizations in promoting social change, in particular one community-based human service organization that is attempting to shift its practice paradigm from amelioration to transformation. Scot's community work with Isaac Prilleltensky and others at Vanderbilt has attracted the attention of the local United Way who have asked them to begin working closely with four other community-based organizations on a similar process of change.
Barbara Friesen is Director of the Research and Training Center on Family Support and Children's Mental Health, Portland, Oregon, and a Professor of Social Work at Portland State University. She brings substantial experience to the understanding and improvement of services for children and their families through her role as the principal investigator of the Center's Family Participation Project. She has authored publications on a number of mental health topics, including community practice, family-centered services, prevention, professional training, family support, and family views of residential treatment. She has worked in both clinical and administrative positions in a number of mental health settings, including state institutions, adult and children's psychiatric day treatment programs, and therapeutic classrooms in the public schools.
James Garbarino is Professor in and Director of the Department of Human Ecology at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, as well as the Director of the acclaimed “Just for Kids!” program. He is an internationally recognized expert in issues dealing with child abuse, specializing in psychological maltreatment. His research focuses on the impact of violence and trauma in the family and community on child and youth development, and it examines interventions to deal with these effects. He has authored and edited numerous books; serves as a consultant to television, magazine, and newspaper reports on children and families; and has been a consultant or adviser to a wide range of national and international organizations concerned with the health and well-being of children, including the American Medical Association, the National [Page 507]Science Foundation, and Childwatch International Research Network.
Jane F. Gilgun is Professor in the School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has done research for many years and published widely in the areas of how persons overcome adversities, the meaning of violence to perpetrators, strengths-based assessments and child and family treatment programs, and capacities of parents adopting children with special needs. Her current research projects are on the development of violent behaviors and a project on parenting adoptive children with special needs. She has presented widely on resilience, violence, and treatment approaches that build on client strengths. She is the author of workbooks for children and their families where the children have a variety of adjustment issues associated with histories of adversity.
Joan Glode is a Mi'kmaq woman from Nova Scotia, Canada. Joan has worked both on- and off-reserve in a variety of programs involving social services for both urban Aboriginal and on-reserve First Nations peoples. She worked as a Human Rights Officer with the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, as Executive Director of the Friendship Center in Halifax, and as a middle manager with the Department of Indian Affairs. She is now the Executive Director of Mi'kmaw Family & Children's Services, a mandated child welfare agency that also operates two Family Healing Centers that provide shelter and safety to women and children and outreach counseling to men.
Wanjiku Kironyo is a social psychologist with a specialization in marriage and family counseling. She has taught at the University of Nairobi in the Department of Social Work. Through a student placement, she learned about the dire needs of women and children in the slums of Nairobi. This experience led to the development of the Maji Mazuri Center for social and economic development in the late 1980s of which she is Director. She also directed the African Family Development Program for 4 years and chaired the Breastfeeding Information Group. She has traveled widely giving lectures to formal and informal institutions in different parts of the world. She also helps various Kenyan-based organizations establish community-based organizations like the one she directs.
Joanne Klevens is a physician and former head of the Community Health Department of Javeriana University in Colombia. She currently works for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. She, along with Luis F Duque, directed the design of the Medellin Early Violence Prevention Project and conducted several research projects on violence epidemiology in Colombia.
Anna I. Laktionova is Director of the Counseling Center at the Institute of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Moscow, where she works with adolescents. She is also a half-time senior researcher at the Moscow State Psychological and Pedagogical University Research Laboratory. Her work examines the psychological and social problems of orphans in Moscow. Concurrently, she is pursuing doctoral studies at this same university with research focused on coping mechanisms of youth, social adaptation of adolescents, and resilience. She worked previously as a high school vice principal.
Avital Laufer is a health sociologist. Her doctoral dissertation examined violence among Israeli youth and won the Bar-Han President and Dean prize for excellence. Her studies focus on youth violence and the effects of terror on youth. She completed her postdoctoral studies at the Adler Research Center at Tel Aviv University. Currently, she is a lecturer at the College of Judea and Samaria in Israel.
John C. LeBlanc is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, and Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. He is based at the IWK Health Centre, a teaching hospital for children and women's health. He holds an IWK Health Centre Investigatorship award that allows him to devote 75% of his time to research. His research interests are in the early identification of disruptive behaviors in children and the evaluation of school-based interventions to reduce these.
Anna W. Lee is currently a postdoctoral associate in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at the Rockefeller University in [Page 508]New York. Her current research investigates how estrogen modulates adrenergic facilitation of reproductive behavior on a molecular level. Her excitement in research, however, lies in linking the brain and behavior, encompassing aspects from psychology, animal behavior, neuroscience, and biophysics. During her Ph.D. work at Dalhousie University, she was involved in the initial stages of the International Resi-Lience project.
Lee Tak-yan is Associate Professor and concurrently Fieldwork Coordinator of the Department of Applied Social Studies, City University of Hong Kong. His research covers civic awareness and civic education, youth development indices, parenting styles and parent-child conflict, adolescent gambling behavior, sociocultural beliefs, moral values and behavior, and effectiveness of parent-teacher associations. He has recently published on topics including handling sibling conflicts, adolescent moral behavior, social worker performance planning, learning strategies as predictors for fieldwork outcomes and performance, youth empowerment, adolescents facing problems in the cyber era, and factors in successful relapse prevention of drug addicts. He has published over 50 journal articles, monographs, and book chapters.
Linda Liebenberg is a South African doctoral student, now managing the International Resilience Project in Halifax, Canada. She has previously managed research projects relating to out-of-school youth in informal settlements surrounding Cape Town and women on farms in the West Coast/Winelands region of South Africa. With a background in psychology and sociology, her main focus is the use of visual methods in varied research contexts. Her interests also include mixed methodologies and how they relate to our understanding of women and children in developing countries.
Nancy MacDonald is Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. Previously, she worked with Mi'kmaq Family and Children's Services of Nova Scotia and has more than 15 years of direct child welfare practice experience with the Mi'kmaq communities in Nova Scotia. She has been a member of the Mi'kmaq Health Research Group since October 2000, where there are ongoing research projects developed and completed by this group. Nancy has developed and delivered elective courses for the BSW program called Social Work With Aboriginal Populations and Child Welfare With Aboriginal Peoples. Other courses include Cross Cultural Issues for Social Work Practice and Beginning Social Work Practice. She is a Planning Group Member of Aboriginal Women's Health and Healing Research Group. She is lead author of “Managing Institutional Practices to Promote and Strengthen Diversity: One School's Journey,” in Anti-Oppressive Social Work Practice, edited byWes Shera and is lead author of “Respecting Aboriginal Families: Pathways to Resilience in Custom Adoption and Family Group Conferencing,” in Pathways to Resilience, edited by Michael Ungar.
Alexander V. Makhnach is a psychologist and Rector at the Institute of Psychology, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, a leading institute of psychology in Russia. In 1994–1995 he worked on the development of the international program The Challenge of Foster Care under the auspice of Christian Solidarity International (Switzerland) and the Russian Ministry of Education that designed a system of foster families in Russia. From 1997 to 1998 he served as scientific secretary for the working group for development of the federal program Development of Philosophical, Clinical and Applied Psychoanalysis. More recently he has been on the Board of Experts and then as Scientific Vice-Director of the Assistance to Russian Orphans-ARO Program. He teaches basic skills in counseling, family therapy, foundations of supervision, and assessment in several state universities in Moscow and Tomsk. He is the author of more than 60 papers on issues such as psychodiagnostics, methodology of supervision, personality, and youth issues.
Gillian Mann has a background in anthropology and education. She has worked for more than 10 years in the field of policy and programs for children living in adversity, as both a practitioner and a researcher. Her interests lie in children's social competencies and relationships at the household, family, and community levels. Recently, her work has focused on the experiences [Page 509]of separated boys and girls in particular, including those children who live without their parents as a result of war, HIV/aids, or both. She is currently engaged in an ethnographic study of the cognitive and emotional development of Congolese refugee children living in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
Jacqueline McAdam-Crisp has degrees in child and youth care and for the past 20 years has worked with children in need of protection in Canada, Kenya, Rwanda, and Ethiopia. Her MA work was done in Nairobi, Kenya, with the assistance of a Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) award and in cooperation with Wanjiku Kironyo. Her research focused on the development of an alternative form of education for street youth. She is presently working on her PhD in human development at the Fielding Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara, California. Her research focuses on the experiences of children following situations of war and their coping abilities, mental health, and resiliency.
Hamilton I. McCubbin is Professor at the Center on the Family, University of Hawaii at Manoa, and Director, Institute for the Study of Resilience in Families and Center on the Family, University of Wisconsin-Madison. Formerly the Chancellor and CEO, Kamehameha Schools, Honolulu, Hawaii, he has also held posts as the Dean of the School of Human Ecology and Child and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and as Head, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota. His scholarly interests include family stress, coping, and resilience with an emphasis on multi-ethic families, development, and change over the life cycle.
Laurie (“Lali”) D. McCubbin is Assistant Professor, in the department of Educational Leadership and Counseling Psychology, Washington State University, in Pullman, Washington. Her research interests and expertise include risk and protective factors and resilience across the life span, cultural identity development, multicultural counseling, and career development. She is also Associate Director of the Stress, Coping and Resilience Project: Individuals, Families and Communities in collaboration with the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
Allister McGregor is Director of the UK ESRC-funded Research Group on Weil-Being in Developing Countries (WeD) and is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics and International Development at the University of the Bath. The WeD research group is developing a conceptual and methodological framework for understanding the social and cultural construction of well-being in developing countries. The group is working with research partners in Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Peru, and Thailand to carry out detailed empirical research in rural and urban communities in each country. He has a disciplinary background in economics and social anthropology and has extensive experience of primary fieldwork in South and Southeast Asia.
George Menamparampil, a Catholic priest and Salesian of Don Bosco, pioneered the nonformal education of the young in North East India and Bhutan. From 1988 to 1997 he was the adult adviser to MIJARC, an international youth organization based in Brussels. In this capacity, he conducted training programs for youth in grassroots and international forums. From 1998 to 2002, he was a member of the national youth animation team of the Salesians in India. Since March 2002, he has been based at Imphal in Manipur, India, offering a variety of services to underprivileged youth.
Isaac Prilleltensky is the author or editor of five books in the field of community psychology. In addition to these books, he has published approximately 60 articles in refereed journals and 20 book chapters. He has been an invited speaker in many countries, including Argentina, Canada, England, Scotland, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, Venezuela, Spain, Cuba, Norway, and Israel. He is a member of the editorial board of several journals, including the Journal of Community Psychology and the Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. He is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the Society for Community Research and Action. He is currently the Director of Graduate Studies in Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University, where he also directs the doctoral program in Community Research and Action.
[Page 510]Ora Prilleltensky is a psychologist, who from 2000 to 2002 taught in the counseling program at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. She now teaches counseling in the Department of Human and Organizational Development in Peabody College at Vanderbilt University. Ora is a mother with a physical disability and the author of Motherhood and Disability: Children and Choices published by Palgrave/MacMillan in 2004.
Vered Slonim-Nevo is Associate Professor in the Spitzer Department of Social Work, Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel, where she has taught advanced clinical courses since 1989. Her research areas include family relations, polygamy, immigration, AIDS prevention, and treatment evaluation. She is also a clinical social worker who counsels families and individuals.
Zahava Solomon is Professor of Psychiatric Epidemiology and Social Work at the Tel-Aviv University and the Head of the Adler Research Center for Child Welfare and Protection. She joined the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) in 1981 and served as Head of the Research Branch in the Medical Corps from 1981 to 1992. In 1990 she joined the Tel-Aviv University and since May 1997 has been Head of the Adler Center for the Study of Child Welfare and Protection. She is internationally known for her research on traumatic stress and especially on the psychological sequel of combat stress reactions, war captivity, and the Holocaust. She has published five books on psychic trauma-related issues and over 200 articles and more than 50 chapters. She was member of the DSM-4 Advisory Subcommittee for PTSD and has earned numerous Israeli and international awards and research grants.
Joyce West Stevens is Professor Emeritus at Boston University School of Social Work. Prior to her tenure there, she spent many years in both the public and private sectors serving inner-city populations in child welfare, mental health, hospital, and private practice settings. Her investigative studies have been in the area of adolescent health-compromising behaviors, including adolescent pregnancy and substance abuse. Her book Smart and Sassy: the Strengths of Inner City Black Girls examines adolescent
developmental issues within the context of daily life, which she argues is necessary when providing direct services. She has been the recipient of both service and research grants and was Principal Investigator for the African American Women's Study, a 3-year NIDA-funded project that investigated the generational transmission of substance use and nonuse among African American women and daughter pairs.
Beth A. Stroul is Vice-President and co-founder of Management & Training Innovations, Inc., a consulting firm in McLean, Virginia, and serves as a consultant in the area of mental health policy. She has completed numerous research, evaluation, policy analysis, and technical assistance projects related to service systems for children and adolescents with emotional disorders and their families. She has been a consultant to the National Technical Assistance Center for Children's Mental Health at Georgetown University since its inception in 1984. Her projects have included coauthoring a widely circulated monograph that presents a conceptual framework and philosophy for a system of care titled, A System of Care for Children and Adolescents With Severe Emotional Disturbances. She has published extensively in the field of children's mental health.
Pamela J. Talbot is a graduate student in the master of science program in community health and epidemiology at Dalhousie University. She is focusing on mental health and mental health promotion as part of a holistic model of health. Currently, she is an honorary Killam scholar.
Eli Teram is Professor, Faculty of Social Work, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He teaches policy, research, and organization and management courses in the master's and doctoral programs. His research interests relate to the organizational context of social work practice, including professional power and the processing of clients, teamwork, organizational control, and multiculturalism. His current research projects include an action-oriented study of ethical issues in social work practice (with Marshall Fine) and an exploration of the experience of childhood sexual abuse survivors with health professionals (with Candice Schachter and Carol Stalker). He is on the editorial board of the [Page 511]Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health. He started his professional career working with street gangs in Israel.
Jerry Thomas is a member of the Salesians of Don Bosco, a religious order working with youth. He has been working with youth in North East India for the past 20 years. He recently completed a youth survey for the Salesian province of Dimapur, and studies on youth work in Northeast India, on the ULFA—an insurgent group in Assam. His work has examined the impact of violence on youth. Currently as Director of the North Eastern Regional Youth Commission at Guwahati, he facilitates and coordinates youth activities in the 11 Catholic dioceses in the region.
Nico Trocmé is Professor in the Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto, and the Director of Centre of Excellence for Child Welfare (CECW). He is the principal investigator for the Canadian Incidence Studies of Reported Child Abuse and Neglect, a periodical survey of investigated maltreatment conducted in Canada. Additional research activities include pilot testing a national framework for tracking outcomes for children receiving child welfare services, analysis of child welfare service trends in Ontario, examination of rates of maltreatment related injuries, and an analysis of child welfare service responses to corporal punishment.
Toine van Teeffelen is Director of Development at the Arab Educational Institute in Bethlehem and member of the board of Palestinian Youth Association for Leadership and Rights Activation (PYALARA). He studied sociology at the University of Rotterdam and social anthropology at the University of Amsterdam, completing his master's thesis with a study of Israeli anthropology.
In the late 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s, he conducted his PhD studies with a discourse analysis of the images of Palestine and Israel in Western popular literature. Articles based on this study appear in various international volumes and journals. He has also authored English and Dutch books about the Palestine-Israel conflict.
Fred Wien is Professor in the School of Social Work, Dalhousie University. He served as the school's Director between 1981 and 1986 and on an acting basis more recently. He is also the Director of the Atlantic Aboriginal Health Research Program, established in the fall of 2002 to strengthen the health research capacity of Aboriginal people in Atlantic Canada. He served as Deputy Director of Research with the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples with particular responsibility for managing the commission's research program in the area of employment and economic development. He has published many books and articles arising from research on the subject of the socioeconomic development of disadvantaged communities.
Wong Kwai-Yau is a social work supervisor with the Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong. His work experience is with children and youth, including gangs, developmental and preventive programs, and moral education. In addition, his work also addresses problems of child and family poverty. Recently, he and his colleagues started a pilot project, Project Chance, to eradicate child poverty among children in the association. Projects he has led were granted the Outstanding Program Award for his association and recognized by colleagues in the social work field. He has been actively involved in childhood and adolescent resilience work in Hong Kong.[Page 512]