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Resilience and young people

September 22, 2011

In an article that explains the need to “understand why some children have good outcomes following exposure to adversity” so “we may have important clues about how to transfer those gains to wider numbers of children who otherwise succumb to the frequently damaging effects of adversity” (37) and then argues for the “resilience enhancing potential of school experiences and spare time activities” (38), Robbie Gilligan offers the following explanation of resilience:

A resilient child is one who bounces back having endured adversity, who continues to function reasonably well despite continued exposure to risk.  ‘Resilience is normal [emphasis in original] development under difficult circumstances’ (Fonagy and others, 1994, p.233).  Resilience may have a social or constitutional origin.  Although the qualities of the child are important in understanding resilience, so also are the experiences that the child encounters and how s/he processes those experiences.  It is that portion of resilience which is due to social experience and how it is processed which is the subject of this article since it is that part of resilience which is susceptible to influence.” (37)

My interest in this concept and the way it is applied ‘in practice’ is in how resilience is modelled in YA lit; how adversity is described, explored, and (usually) resolved in YA Lit; how these ideas might connect up with the real-life experiences of different readerships… etc.

Ref: Robbie Gilligan (2000) ‘Adversity, Resilience and Young People: the protective value of positive school and spare time experiences.’ Children & Society 14, pp37-47

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