Parent’s Prevention Primer—Risk and Protective Factors

You try to keep your kids healthy, right? You make sure they get enough sleep, eat fruits and vegetables, and brush their teeth. Prevention is key to keeping your child well. When it comes to alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drugs, drug preventon measures—also called “protective factors”—can help keep your child from using substances.

In contrast, risk factors are like red flags that can warn you about possible dangers in your child’s future—and help you prevent those dangers.

A child deals with many types of risk and protective factors at home, in school, and in his neighborhood. The more risk factors a child faces, the more likely he is to have substance abuse and related problems as a teen or young adult. And the reverse is true; with more protective factors at work, a child is more likely to make healthy decisions.

Protective Factors
Parents can provide one of the most important protective factors: a strong family bond. When you and your children hang out and have fun together, you develop a sense of closeness and trust and help strengthen family ties. Time together also gives you a chance to share your values and expectations about different topics, including substance use. If you let your child know up front that you don’t approve of using alcohol, tobacco, or drugs, your child is less likely to use them.

Research shows that parental influence is a primary reason that youth don’t do drugs, so speak up and let your children know where you stand.

Risk Factors
Many types of risk factors are rooted in a child’s family life. Would it surprise you to learn that parents’ permissiveness is a bigger factor in teenage drug use than is peer pressure?

Research shows that children whose parents who don’t use fair and consistent discipline are more likely to be at greater risk for drug-taking behavior.

Making rules, explaining the need for them, and enforcing them consistently are important. Parents need to establish regularly enforced rules to guide their children in developing daily habits of self-discipline.

Risk and Protective Factors in Your Family’s Regular Routine
You have a chance to improve many of your child’s protective factors every day. Start by spending time together—eat dinner together, go for a walk, drive to the mall, play board games, or do other activities that you and your child can enjoy together. Like the steps you take to keep your child’s body healthy, a solid relationship with you can help protect her from substance use and help keep her well in body, mind, and spirit.


5 Responses to Parent’s Prevention Primer—Risk and Protective Factors

  1. Rita Mires says:

    Wow! I never thought talking with my kids could actually protect them, I am going to try that and I will let them up front that I don’t like drugs then they will love me and never do anything to hurt me like use drugs. So I guess kids who use drugs have bad parents who don’t love them, ignore them, and did nothing to protect them.

  2. Danny Slifman says:

    Wow Rita…sarcasm on a blog?

    Heck, I might as well never worry about a cavity since I brush my teeth everyday. And come to think of it, since I exercise everyday, I will never have a heart attack.

    There is obviously not a single fool proof answer in drug and alcohol prevention. Several factors play into it. But why not spread the word and educate parents about the influence they have in helping prevent drug and alcohol abuse. Who cares if they already know it? We might reach one that didn’t.

  3. Emily Moser says:

    Hey Rita,

    Have your kids reached adolescence yet? Talking to your kids about safety in general is an obvious parent responsibility and a lot easier when it’s about bike helmets and seatbelts, but it gets a lot harder as they hit the pre teen and teenage years and are experimenting with stages of independence. The subject matter is more complicated. the talks less frequent, peer pressure influences, and an everchanging balance of who’s making the decisions. I know lots of parents that DON’T have the “drug” talk (or the sex talk for that matter) because they are uncomfortable and have their own skeletons in the closet. BTY, talking to my kids about tough issues has very little to with how much they love me, and much more to do with setting safe and reasonable boundaries for them.

  4. Rita Mires says:

    I apologize for my sarcasm, I have just been dealing with a lot problems with my kids and am feeling very overwhelmed. I will no longer post on your blog. I have worked very hard to raise my kids. I appreciate your information, I just wish there were more agencies willing to help parents like me.

  5. Pete says:

    Rita: That’s why organizations such as Oregon Partnership exist – to help others, provide information and offer forums for parents like you.

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