In prevention, our aim is to understand the risk and protective factors our youth are facing in the different areas of their lives, and to implement strategies to counteract the risks young people face. Risk factors are things that increase the likelihood of risky behavior like substance use, and protective factors are positive things that directly counteract risk factors. There are multiple domains within a young person’s life where Risk and protective factors can be present; individual, peer, family, school and community. There can be both risk and protective factors present in each domain at any given time in a young person’s life.
Risk factors don’t happen in isolation. It is a combination of risk factors, rather than a single factor, that can contribute to risky behavior for a young person. When there are multiple risk factors occurring at the same time across multiple domains, it increases the overall risk. Over the course of adolescence a young person may experience different risk factors are different times, they are dynamic. And it’s important to remember that all young people are capable of being resilient.
As prevention professionals we continually work to identify the risk and protective factors youth in our communities face, implement appropriate evidence based strategies to promote protective factors and reduce risk factors. Evidence based strategies have been rigorously tested and researched through using prevention science in a variety of settings.