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According to the young people interviewed, resilience has a positive role to play in reducing risks and helping them improve outcomes. Resilience includes three components: individual, relational and contextual/community. Workers can use these resilience resources to support youth to manage their challenges and achieve their goals.
There is a strong relationship between individual and contextual risk. Individual risk includes things such as use of drugs, mental health issues, fighting, tagging, stealing etc. Contextual risk includes things such as family and community safety issues.
It appears that when both individual and contextual risks are high services find it hard to intervene effectively to support young people. This means that successful work with young people needs to take into account the ways in which risks in young people’s environments impact upon their ability to be safe.
Young people’s reports about service experiences suggested that when these are consistently positive they achieve better outcomes across a broad spectrum that includes the things they achieve as well as their feelings about themselves, the opportunities available to them and optimism for their futures.
Young people with higher risk tend to have inconsistent or negative service experiences.
Young people with higher resilience tend to have consistently positive service experiences.
These findings mean that workers need to spend time understanding the unique ways in which risk and resilience work in each young person’s life and to plan their support around this. It means that they need to work closely with the other agencies that are involved in youth lives so that the overall work is consistent and responds to the specific needs and experiences of the young person.
We thank The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for funding this research. We also gratefully thank all the young people and their supporters who participated in the research. Finally we acknowledge the contribution of The Donald Beasley Institute, The Victoria University Research Trust and its staff, Youthline Auckland and all the other researchers who helped with the research.
Compiled by Robyn Munford, Jackie Sanders, Erin Sandbrook
Resilience Research Centre NZ - Youth Research Site 2013