Protective Factors, Resilience, and Child Abuse and Neglect


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How children recover from child abuse and neglect depends This slideshow introduces basic concepts for understanding the effects of child abuse and neglect. How children recover from child abuse and neglect depends upon resources that are available to them and their capacities to engage with these resources.

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Protective Factors, Resilience, and Child Abuse and Neglect

  1. 1. Protective Factors, Resilience, and Child Abuse and Neglect Jane F. Gilgun, Ph.D., LICSW School of Social Work University of Minnesota, Twin Cities
  2. 2. Child abuse and neglect  The effects of childhood abuse and neglect can be life-long and have serious effects on the quality of life  Some child victims of abuse and neglect cope with, adapt to, and overcome many of the effects of abuse and neglect  This suggests the existence of processes that are protective
  3. 3.  Protective processes moderate the effects of risks  They are found within individuals, families, peer groups, social institutions such as schools, and through more nebulous influences such as social policy and economic forces  Adults provide the resources and create conditions that foster protective processes when children have experienced risks and other adversities  Peers often are factors in protective processes
  4. 4. Developmental psychopathology  Study of high risk groups, usually longitudinally, in order to understand factors associated with both adaptive and maladaptive outcomes  Risks developmental psychopathologists have studied include:  Child abuse & neglect, parental mental health, parental death and abandonments, foster care  Unsafe neighborhoods, homelessness, natural
  5. 5. Vulnerability  Child abuse and neglect results in vulnerability  That may include a sense of the self as defective (shame) and may result in psychic wounds  Psychic wounds can be thought of as “hot buttons” that when pushed results in intense emotional pain  When psychic wounds are restimulated, persons may experience dysregulation
  6. 6. Dysregulation  The person at least temporarily experiences a sense of unmanageability of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors; pulse and heart rates may accelerate  Many possible signs of dysregulation: anxiety, fear, depression, withdrawal, lethargy, crying bouts, bedwetting, agitation  Persons seek to re-regulate
  7. 7. Coping with dysregulation  Re-regulation: To regain a sense of self-efficacy, control, and mastery over self and the environment  Three strategies:  Pro-social  Anti-social  Self-injurious
  8. 8. Pro-social efforts to re-regulate  Seeking comfort and affirmation from caring adults and peers  Talking about hurt and confusion  Engaging in behaviors that soothe emotional pain (e.g., exercise & art)  Reinterpreting the meanings of the abuse and neglect
  9. 9. Anti-social efforts to re- regulate  Examples:  Destruction of property  Bullying  Attacking others  Inappropriate sexual behaviors  Bragging and acts of bravado
  10. 10. Self-injurious efforts to re- regulate  Examples:  Cutting  Anorexia & bulimia  Substance use and abuse  Suicide attempts  Recklessness  Spending money
  11. 11. Protective Factors: Outcomes. A factor is protective when we can identify both the risks that lead to vulnerability and the assets that persons use to cope with, adapt to, and overcome risks.  Close, long-term relationships with persons who model pro-social behaviors and who affirm pro-sociality in the person who has experienced abuse and neglect
  12. 12. Protective Factors (continued)  Emulating the pro-social behaviors of persons they admire  Strong desire to be pro-social  Ability to engage in self-soothing behaviors  Affirming ethnic/cultural identification  Hope for the future  Resources to attain life goals
  13. 13. Resilience  Coping with, adapting to, and overcoming risks; an outcome  Flexible, help-seeking, problem-solving behaviors when stressed  Ability to maintain an integrated sense of self when “hot buttons” are pushed  Persons can be resilient in one situation and fragmented and brittle in others
  14. 14. Roles of adults  Adults as parents, policy makers, program planners, prevention specialists, and direct practitioners have pivotal tasks in the promotion of resilience, including  Providing resources that children and youth recognize as important to them and are consistent with what they want.  Time and attention that eventually result in young persons' increasing capacities to regulate and re-regulate themselves in times of stress.