Risk Factors and Protective Factors

Rana is facing relatively big changes in her life, having moved from one country to another and started at a new kindergarten. These changes can lead to certain challenges in her development. There are both stabilizing and destabilizing factors in terms of child development. The resilience concept summarizes these so-called risk and protection factors.

Risk factors may include: birth complications, unsafe bonding behaviour and separation or divorce of parents, frequent moves/relocation, or the loss of a family member.

Risk factors are not necessarily detrimental to development. These are potential hazards, especially when there are a variety of factors in a child's life at a particular time or over a sustained period of time (Böhm & Hehlmann, 2000).

Protective factors can include: a stable emotional bond or relationship, an emotionally positive, supportive and structured educational environment, role models for constructive coping behaviour under stress, temperament, the promotion of trust, autonomy and responsibility, an appreciative atmosphere characterized by warm-heartedness and respect and acceptance.

For Rana, the classroom environment should serve as a protective factor; it is important that the educators do everything they can to provide a stable, positive and calm environment to help Rana get her footing and feel comfortable in this new situation.            

Protective factors and risk factors can change over time. The term ‘protection factor’ is used only in connection with a risk situation (Böhm & Hehlmann, 2000).