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Resilience in Children Exposed to Violence: A Meta-analysis of Protective Factors Across Ecological Contexts


Children who experience violence in their families and communities are at increased risk for a wide range of psychological and behavioral difficulties, but some exhibit resilience, or adaptive functioning following adversity. Understanding what promotes resilience is critical for developing more effective prevention and intervention strategies. Over 100 studies have examined potential protective factors for children exposed to violence in the past 30 years, but there has been no quantitative review of this literature. In order to identify which protective factors have received the strongest empirical support, we conducted a meta-analysis of 118 studies involving 101,592 participants. We separately evaluated cross-sectional (n = 71) and longitudinal (n = 47) studies testing bivariate, additive, and buffering effects for eleven proposed protective factors. Effect sizes generally were stronger in cross-sectional than longitudinal studies, but four protective factors—self-regulation, family support, school support, and peer support—demonstrated significant additive and/or buffering effects in longitudinal studies. Results were consistent across type of violence experienced (i.e., maltreatment, intimate partner violence, community violence). The review highlights the most robust predictors of resilience, identifies limitations of this work, and offers directions for improving our understanding of the processes and programs that foster resilience in children exposed to violence.

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*Articles that met the review criteria and included in Table 2.

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Correspondence to Kristen Yule.

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Yule, K., Houston, J. & Grych, J. Resilience in Children Exposed to Violence: A Meta-analysis of Protective Factors Across Ecological Contexts. Clin Child Fam Psychol Rev 22, 406–431 (2019).

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  • Resilience
  • Violence
  • Protective factors
  • Children