The children and adolescents in today's America are at a high risk of failure, based on certain internal and external factors that may or may not have been chosen by them. The societal failure lifestyle does not have to be the future of any of America's children, each of who are able to lower such risk through personal choice and habitual experiences until the growth into their adulthood. When a child is placed under certain optimistic and good natured demands for personal success from educational institutions, parents, and themselves, it is then that they will be most capable in functioning in today's society.
The purpose of the article "Risk and Resilience," by Darlene Brackenreed was to introduce and discuss how risk and resilience relate to at-risk children. "At-risk" children were defined in the article as those with a predictable vulnerability or risk for a wide range of negative outcomes. Negative outcomes included school failure, dropping out, poverty, and drug abuse, among other factors. The article proceeded to define its interpretation of resilience, concluding that at-risk children and adolescence are capable of having positive attributes to help them succeed as much as a low-risk child, despite their diagnosis (Brackenreed, 2010).
The article proved that low income families were clearly a linking factor to determining if a child could be considered at-risk or not. In 1973, a study demonstrated low income factors by studying a group of juvenile boys that came from low income families, showing their increased risk of delinquency (Brackenreed, 2010). In 2010 not only was this study verified and supported, but it was determined that the delinquency rates were on the increase in American children and adolescents. Despite the arguably natural rebellion, it was predicted that nearly half of the children and adolescents experience rebellion growing up, and the risks they choose to take can be dangerous and life altering. The risks that today's children and adolescents are willing to take include substance abuse, early unprotected sex, and youth violence, each of which may lead to disability or death (Brackenreed, 2010).
In order to break America's future from this dangerous cycle, the causes of the factors leading up to a child being diagnosed as at-risk should be evaluated. Poverty is the number one cause of at-risk child issues, mainly as a result of the violence and abuse, substance abuse and stress within the home, adolescent pregnancy and other prenatal and birth issues, poor nutrition, alcohol abuse and smoking, and sexually transmitted diseases. The population of the poverty class is greatly contrived of women and children, potentially starting the vicious cycle for the children to repeat in their adulthood. Women make up the greater half of the single parent population and are still being paid less than men that are their equals in the workforce. In the poverty class, it is not uncommon for women and children to see violent behaviors, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological abuse from another figure in their household or lives, as violence proves to be a form of authority. In fact, abused children have a greater chance of abusing their own children than those that were not abused. In continuing the cycle, 37% are mothers, 54% are fathers (Brackenreed, 2010).
With such detrimental facts, it should almost be accepted and assumed that America's abused and poverty class will undoubtedly become social failures, not contributing to the workforce or the community in any way. However, a second trait of such adolescents and children was studied. Despite the high risk factors that some people have, a person is still able to adapt into a successful, contributing human being. Commonly known as resilience, this trait can be broken into three different types: Finding personal strength, coping with sustained and acute negative circumstances, and recovering from trauma, such as the death of a parent or loved one. Resilience cannot be diagnosed as a trait that will stay with one forever, but rather, as a person experiences personal challenges, their risk and resilience levels will also alter. The difference between children and adolescents that are capable of resilience and those that are not is often easy to spot, such as having higher intelligence, lower thrill seeking, less association with problematic peers, and abstinence of anti-social behaviors. The resilient characteristics can literally change or save their life.
These effective characteristics fall into one of four protective processes in order to moderate a risk factor. First, a person may try to reduce their exposure to risk. This can be done by seeking mental help, avoiding substance abuse, and refraining from unprotected sexual activity. Secondly, a resilient child may reduce any negative reactions to bad experiences, such as fights with peers or thinking lowly of themselves after being verbally abused. Next, one may promote self-esteem through achievement, later discussed as a tool dedicated teachers use to reinforce their students. It is important, especially for at-risk children, to self-discover that they are capable beings. Lastly, the child may need positive relationships that provide them with opportunities. These protective processes can direct a young person to having social competence, problem solving skills, independence, empathy, task orientation, curiosity, peer relations, and a sense of purpose and future (Brackenreed, 2010). Fortunately, with studies on resiliency, all is not lost for America's youth.
Children and adolescents with resilient factors are not independent, solitary beings. "The family is potentially the most effective social institution for rearing healthy children," Brackenreed writes. The parents or loved ones within a home play a large role in the success of the child. No matter what income level, parents that often show concern for their child's education, offer their child loving guidance and support daily, and pay attention to the child's goals and interests are making a great investment in their child's future. Some children are not quite as lucky as to have a loving home, but still show signs of resilience, which may lead one to wonder how this is possible. Schools, businesses, churches, parks, recreation facilities, and transportation also support in encouraging resilient factors, of which children from broken homes are in a more desperate need of (Brackenreed, 2010). In fact, as Brackenreed suggests, the role of the school system is significant in changing the child's life. School systems, including individual teachers, that have a caring attitude and good academic records help with increasing child resiliency. The school itself can help by offering sporting programs, academic and musical programs, allowing and encouraging student involvement with the school through National Honor Society duties and events, volunteering, and student body office. Most of all, teachers that have good interpersonal relationships with their students inspire and push the students (Brackenreed, 2010).
Children and adolescents need at least one significant figure in their lives, and resilient students that lack emotionally healthy home lives are most likely going to choose a teacher as their adult role model. This is a responsibility to be taken seriously because if a child chooses a teacher because there is no role model at home, that teacher can be the only difference between switching a young person from being an at-risk child to a resilient one. In order for a teacher to inspire a child to be resilient, the teacher should be caring, listen and validate the student's feelings, show kindness, respect, and not be judgmental (Brackenreed, 2010). If the teacher challenges the student with high expectations because they are aware of a student's strengths, the student will be able to recognize their strengths and feel pride for their achievements. Teachers and schools are not able to make an environment where one hundred percent of the students are able to succeed academically, but what is possible is for the learning environment to cherish and encourage the talents and gifts that all students offer, not just the academic talents. It is extremely important to show that every student has value. Accommodations and assignments generated to meet the needs of individual students will allow students to become more capable in areas such as forming relationships, problem solving, developing their identity, and planning and hoping for their own future because they will feel significant (Brackenreed, 2010).
Strengthening the argument for educational institutions and teachers involvement in a student's life is article, "Recommendation for Fostering Educational Resiliency in the Classroom," by Jayne Downey. Through research, this article identifies a number of varying factors within the classroom that assist in the encouragement of the educational resilience process that a student may go through, especially those with any at-risk diagnosis for academic failure. Focusing on research completed directly with educators, Downey describes what she believes to be the best options in order to save America's children from walking down the wrong, failing paths.
Downey writes of the difficulties of today's children's challenges, including violence, discrimination, poverty, and alcoholism. Claiming each as a risk factor, all hold the potential for raising the chances that a student will not be able to succeed in school because of its interference…