Discussion—Risk Factors and Protective Factors
Research studies have determined many risk factors that can lead to the development of mental health issues and mental illness. These include, but are not limited to, exposure to violence, parental divorce, poverty, genetic predisposition, and dysfunctional parenting. At the same time, there have been children who faced many of these risk factors and overcame them. These children are referred as resilient, and researchers have been eager to determine how they were able to thrive under circumstances that undo other children.
Let us explore the information presented in the book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore (2010).You can also access the author’s interview with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the form of video, audio, or text transcript at the following Web site:
The following is a synopsis of the book by the publisher:
Wes Moore, the author of the book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates, was surprised when one day, the police approached him for a crime he did not commit. During the investigation, he came to know of another man who had the same name—Wes Moore. The shared name was not the only coincidence: they had both grown up in the same neighborhood at about the same time. Yet, one Wes Moore went on to become a Rhodes scholar, earn honors in the military, work at the White House, and become a leader in the business community; while the other Wes Moore was sentenced to life in prison. The descriptions of the lives of both Wes Moores are illustrative of the power of heredity and environment in the shaping of a person.
As boys, both Wes Moores grew up in poor, single-parent homes and did not apply themselves in primary and secondary school. The author’s father, a newscaster, died when the author was three years old. He and his two sisters were raised by his widowed mother. Before he was a teen, he became disillusioned with school and began getting into trouble in his neighborhood, even having brushes with the law for petty crimes. His mother decided to send him to military school, but he ran away five times before finally giving the school a chance. Once he decided to stay, he gained a strong sense of purpose and developed a strong work ethic.
Meanwhile, the other Wes Moore, who lived in the same area of Baltimore, was about the same age, and was also being raised by a single mother. He was arrested and convicted for first-degree murder of a police officer during a jewelry store robbery. He is serving a life prison sentence.
Important differences between the childhoods of the two boys are notable. The author had two college-educated parents. His father chose to stay with the family, but died at a relatively young age. He was relatively closely supervised. He, his siblings, and his mother lived with his grandparents after his father died. The author’s mother took extreme steps to try to turn him around. She moved several times to try to find safer neighborhoods. She sent him to military school when he exhibited troublesome behavior.
The other Wes Moore’s father was never a part of his life, choosing to abandon the family before his birth. His mother had been accepted to college, but federal budget cuts resulted in the loss of her Pell Grant. She had to abandon her goal of a college education and instead, had to work three jobs to care for her family. Eventually, she became overwhelmed and was unable to provide the kind of structure the author received. As a result, the other Wes Moore was unsupervised much of the time. He began using and selling drugs, later resorting to more serious crimes, like robbery, for money. It was during a robbery that he shot and killed a police officer—a crime that put him in prison for life.
Using the module readings, the Argosy University online library resources, the Internet, and the PBS Web resource, respond to the following:
- Analyze why the author became successful, while the other Wes Moore did not.
- Evaluate the risk factors faced by each. (Explain at least three.)
- Evaluate the protective factors that helped the author to be resilient, despite difficult circumstances. (Explain at least three.)
- Provide an analysis of recent research on resilience in children and adolescents and about how these children overcome such difficult early experiences.
Write your initial response in 350–500 words. Apply APA standards to citation of sources, including in-text citations and full references. Incorporate information from at least two academic sources to support your statements or ideas. Academic sources could include your textbook, required readings for this week, or academic journal articles found in the AU online library.
By Saturday, June 28, 2014, post your response to the appropriate Discussion Area. Through Wednesday, July 2, 2014, review and comment on at least two peers’ responses. Provide a statement of clarification, a point of view with rationale, challenge a point of discussion, or draw a relationship between one or more points of the discussion. Consider commenting on the following:
- Provide a critique of the peers’ opinions regarding the resilience of the successful Wes Moore.
- Explain whether you agree with the risk and protective factors identified by your peers, and why.
- Request more information from peers who may have answered briefly or listed less than three risk factors or three protective factors.
- Suggest additional readings you found in your research on resilience, and provide references for academic research articles. Summarize the researched information for your peers.