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Serious social problems continue into adulthood

October 2, 2011

Robbie Gilligan writes: “Reducing even by one the number of problem areas in a child’s life may have a disproportionate and decisive impact.  Such unexpected gains may occur because adversity seems most debilitating when it comes in multiple forms.  As adversities mount up – abuse plus domestic violence plus educational failure plus family poverty, the cumulative negative impact seems to soar (Rutter, 1990). …The target must be to reduce the net total of negative factors in a child’s life.” (38)  He continues: “In a study of whether and how serious problems growing up carry on into adulthood, Swedish researchers have found the likelihood of serious social problems continuing from adolescence intoadulthood seems linked to the extent of personal resources and the sheer range of problem areas in the individual child’s life.  Reducing the accumulation of problem areas seems to reduce the risk of later problems (Stattin and Magnusson, 1996).  This seems to indicate that a small change within a child’s profile or functioning may have an important wider ripple effect generating momentum possibly for a virtuous spiral of change and development.” (38)

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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