Risk Factors and Protective Factors
Research studies have determined many risk factors that can lead to the development of mental health issues and mental illnesses. 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 to as “resilient,” and researchers have been eager to determine how these children thrive under circumstances that undo other children.
For this assignment, let’s explore the information presented in the book The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates (Moore, 2010).
According to the publisher’s synopsis, the book describes “two kids with the same name [who] lived in the same decaying city. One went on to be a Rhodes Scholar, decorated combat veteran, White House Fellow, and business leader. The other is serving a life sentence in prison. [This] is the story of two boys and the journey of a generation” (Moore, 2010, p. 1).
Both of the boys (named Wes Moore) grew up in poverty and single-parent homes and received failing grades and disciplinary actions for truancy from primary and secondary schools. The author’s father, a newscaster, died when the author was three years old. He and his two sisters were raised by their widowed mother. Before he was a teen, he became disillusioned with school and began getting into trouble in his neighborhood and even had brushes with the law for petty crimes. His mother decided to send him to military school, but he ran away from the school five times before finally giving it a chance. Once he decided to stay, he gained a strong sense of purpose and developed work ethics. He was surrounded by men who modeled leadership, ethics, and commitment to positive goals. He also established long-term mentor relationships with several members of the faculty at the school. These mentors helped him apply for and receive a Rhodes Scholarship and entry into the prestigious Johns Hopkins University.
Meanwhile, the other Wes Moore, who lived in the same area of Baltimore, was about the same age and was also raised by a single mother. He was arrested and convicted for the first-degree murder of a police officer in a jewelry store robbery. He is serving a life sentence (Moore, 2009). Important differences between the two boys are notable though. The author had two college-educated parents. His father chose to stay with the family but died at a relatively young age. The author was 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. When he faltered at military school, she arranged for a mentor to guide him and support him there.
The other Wes Moore’s father was never a part of his life, choosing to abandon the family before his birth. His mother joined a 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 work three jobs to care for her family. Eventually, she became overwhelmed and was unable to provide the kind of structure the author required. As a result, the other Wes Moore was unsupervised much of the time. His older brother was selling illegal drugs as were many of his peers. His peers looked to him as a leader, but he put those skills to use in a risky, illegal manner. He began using and selling drugs, later resorting to more serious crimes, such as 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.
Moore, W. (2009). The other Wes Moore: One name, two fates. Retrieved from
Moore, W. (2010). The other Wes Moore: One name, two fates. New York,
NY: Spiegel & Grau.
In a post of at least 200 words in length, answer the following questions:
- After analyzing each boy’s background, provide an explanation for each boy’s drastically different outcomes in life.
- Evaluate the author’s background by providing an analysis of the risk factors he faced and the protective factors that contributed to the positive outcome. Include at least three risk factors and three protective factors in your analysis.
- Apply recent research findings on resilience in children and adolescents to these cases. Explain the various factors involved in how resilient children overcome such difficult early experiences. Be specific and cite your sources appropriately.