Risk and protective factors for problem behaviors among youth in residential care

Eran Melkman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


In accordance with problem behavior theory (PBT), the study examined the contribution of risk and protective factors among high-risk adolescents living in residential care settings (RCSs) to their delinquency, substance abuse, and risky sexual behavior, as well as the inter-correlations between these problem behaviors. The specific study variables were chosen to represent the personal and environmental factors operating on the adolescent. It was hypothesized that higher levels of problem behaviors would be associated with higher levels of sensation-seeking and deviant peer associations (risk factors), and lower levels of future orientation and parental support (protective factors).One hundred and forty seven adolescents ( M=. 16.03) from seven residential facilities for children with severe emotional and behavioral problems in Israel responded to structured self-report questionnaires.The powerful associations found between the abovementioned risk behaviors suggested a problem behavior syndrome among this group. The risk factors of sensation-seeking and deviant peer associations made the largest contribution to the prediction of problem behaviors beyond any background or protective factors examined. Of the protective factors, only future orientation was found to be significantly associated with problem behaviors: i.e., a more positive future orientation correlated with lower engagement in problem behaviors, an association that increased in strength with age.The apparent existence of a single behavioral syndrome among youth in RCSs and the central contribution to the syndrome of risk factors - in particular, deviant peer associations - points to the need for holistic group interventions addressing multiple risk factors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-124
Number of pages8
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Deviant peer associations
  • Future orientation
  • Israel
  • Problem behaviors
  • Residential care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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