Evidence Brief | Why Identifying Risk and Protective Factors is a Critical Step in Prevention Programming: Implications for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action
Humanitarian crises, including natural disasters, conflict, and infectious disease outbreaks threaten the health, safety and well-being of children, families, and communities. Risks to children in humanitarian settings are multiple and may include: family separation, recruitment into armed forces or groups, involvement in hazardous labor, physical or sexual abuse, psychosocial distress, injury and even death. The roots of harmful outcomes for children are complex, and the consequences of these outcomes are enduring for children, families, communities, and societies.
Overall, there is a scarcity of research facilitated in humanitarian contexts analyzing risk and protective factors and causal pathways of risk and resilience. Studies focusing on understanding patterns of risk and protective factors will lead to more meaningful and appropriate preventive approaches, which are in turn essential for the further development of evidence-based programs and practices grounded in sound theories of change. To this end, agreeing on operational definitions and data collection approaches can improve the quality of research, as well as the comparability and wider applicability of findings to support scaling up and adaptation across contexts.
This brief serves as a simple guide to inform decisions related to data collection and evidence generation efforts on risk and protective factors at the population-level. It describes why a better understanding risk and protective factors within the humanitarian context is an essential step in prevention programming. It starts by defining important concepts and definitions, and provides a summary of the key findings of the desk review led by the Alliance. Subsequent sections include an overview of population-level data collection approaches, and examples of preventive programming approaches aimed at reaching sub-populations or groups of children, families, and community members in accordance to the socio-ecological model, linking all the learning together.