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Ecological Risk-Protective Model

Ecological Risk-Protective Model

Family Life Education is one of the challenging events for parents and experts. Human behavior is unpredictable, and no single approach is a remedy to all misdemeanors. As such, there is a need to have a comprehensive plan that can handle any behavioral issues in society. Research has demonstrated that human behavior is as a result of nurture and nature. As a essay writer family life educator, it is challenging to alter the nurture aspect that is associated with genes. However, the Family Educator can concentrate on the natural element and change the behavior of an individual. Although in most instances, people focus on the environment, in some cases people defy environmental concerns. Noticeably, this explains why there are instances of exceptional behavior. Such conflicting issues relating to family life education need a comprehensive model like the Ecological Risk- Protective. Under this, the theorist’s highlight behavior based on the environment and also from the perspective of resilience. Some people are affected by the environmental settings and this is addressed by ecological risk. Conversely, there are those that have a strong personality that withstands situational pressure and this is what the protective proposes. Considerably, the ecological risk- protective model is comprehensive as it focuses on both ways upon which behavior could be influenced  

Summary facts of the Ecological Risk- protective Model

The model is a combination of two perspectives. In the article “An Ecological Risk/Protective Theory for Building Prevention Programs, Policies, and Community Capacity to Support Youth” by Bogenschneider (1996) demonstrates how this model is dual. First, there is the ecological risk perspective which was derived from the medical field. According to the ecological risk, when doctors want to create a prevention program for a particular disease, they investigate all the risk factors that are likely to cause the condition. For instance, for hypertension, someone will be warned about the consumption of salts, sugars, and cholesterol. In this case, the doctors do not concentrate on the treatment but the surrounding issues. Noticeably, this is where the term ecological emanates from when referring to the model. Ecology relates to the surroundings of an organism. Under a normal circumstance, the settings of one’s habitat affect his or her life. For instance, the people who come from aboriginal areas in Canada have a different lifestyle from those in the urban areas. Mostly, the indigenous people live in natural settings, and this affects their dressing among other vital aspects of their life. On the other hand, as a result of profound human activity, in urban areas, people tend to live a modern life which is represented by loose clothes. The argument, in this case, is that the ecological factors influence a particular behavior or condition.

In the family life education situation, the ecological risk model refers to the notion that children’s upbringing relies on the settings that he or she grows up. For instance, a child that is brought up in a family where there is domestic violence, such a person will perceive fighting as one of the ways of solving problems in life. As such, the ecological risk model indicates that when parents want to ensure that a child grows and develops according to acceptable societal ways, it is essential to identify the risk factors. Among those issues that affect youths in the current society are problems such as drug and alcohol abuse. In the application of the ecological-risk perspective, the parents are advised to look at some of the risk factors that are likely to result in alcohol and drug abuse. For instance, there are those parents that drink alcohol even in the presence of their children. In other cases, children grow up in low-cost neighborhoods where there the use of drugs is part of youthfulness. Considerably, these are some risks that could affect the future of children. Therefore, what the ecological risk perspective suggests is that parents and the community should identify the risk factors and try to eliminate them from the surrounding of the child.

On the other hand, the protective model refers to resiliency that is associated with the growth and development of a child. Some children grow up in vulnerable conditions but manage to become responsible adults in the future. In society, there are those children who are brought up in a family that is characterized by domestic violence. Also, there are those that grow in a neighborhood where the youth engage in crime and drug abuse. However, what is surprising is that in some instances the two scenarios fail to affect children negatively. Considerably, this is what addressed by the protective model. The focus is to determine the unique cases where children use the negative experiences in their surrounding as a platform of living according to the values and traditions of the society. Ideally, this deviates from many theories that relate growth such as ecological risk.

From the above separate description of the ecological risk and protective models, it appears that there is some degree of contradiction between the ecological risk and protective model. However, the two have been merged in this instance they have been incorporated for purposes of addressing the issue of a child’s upbringing and the issue of promoting ideal growth and development. According to Bogenschneider (1996), when ecological-risk and protective models are merged, they form the ecological theory. Under this, the focus is for stakeholders to carry out a situational analysis of the environment. After this, the issue now revolves on the need to ensure that the risk factors do not affect the child’s growth. In this case, the role of the ecological risk is to identify the risk factors while on the other hand, the protective model helps the community to understand methods of making the children to withstand some of the experiences of an adverse environment. Therefore, the role of the ecological risk-protective model is to address the issues that relate to the growth of children from a holistic approach.

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The Tension Between Instrumental-Technical and Critical-Emancipatory types of Programming

The emergence of the ecological risk-protective model is one of the approaches that will address the issues between instrumental-technical and critical-emancipatory types of programming. According to Coney (2015), instrumental-technical is that approach where one is offered ideas on how to manage his or her life. On the other hand, the critical-emancipatory programming aims at controlling the life of an individual in entirety (Watson & Watson, 2011). Considerably, these are opposing sides in the context of family life education. As usual, both have merits and demerits, and for this reason, it is challenging for theorists of either end to be tolerant of the ideas of either side. However, the use of the ecological risk-protective model is ideal because it has two facets and as such, they address either side of the issue which relates to family life education.

The ability to manage the tension between instrumental-technical and critical-emancipatory types of programming is because, with the ecological –risk protective model, the issue of one’s situation is addressed. Considerably, a theoretical perspective that concentrates on investigating the context is tolerant. It is important to note that people experience distinct situations. For this reason, it is not easy to find two people have precisely similar conditions. Considerably, this addresses the issue of critical-emancipatory programming where the family educator appears to be controlling everything in the life of the individual (Watson & Watson, 2011). When one begins to deal with people depending on their conditions, then, the critical-emancipatory method cannot thrive. The solutions that are created depending on a person’s settings then the family educator cannot have control over the life of a person. In this case, what the family educator has to do is to investigate the environmental conditions and offers a solution.

The issues that relate to instrumental-technical programming can also be addressed through the use of the ecological-risk protective model. Although the instrumental-technical approach is meant to ensure that an individual is empowered to handle some of the experiences of his or life. Considerably, the perspective of instrumental-technical method differs from the critical-emancipatory way. The role of the educator in the case of the instrumental-technical way is to make sure that the individual has gained (Coney, 2015). However, this could be detrimental in the case of a person who is from a vulnerable environment. For instance, when a youth is advised on life skills regarding drug abuse and the same time such a person is allowed to go into a hostile environment, then, there is a likelihood that the family life program that was planned is likely to be unsuccessful. However, when there is control from the family educator, it is not easy for such a youth to engage in illegal activities. Considerably, this is the argument that makes the theorists behind the critical-emancipatory to criticize their counterparts of instrumental-technical perspective (Watson & Watson, 2011). However, by using the ecological risk-protective model these short-comings of the instrumental-technical programming.

The protective perspective in the ecological theory can handle some of these problems. Notably, the protective side of the ecological theory suggests that a person should be motivated to be resilient to challenging situations during his or her growth and development. In this case, the educator is to instill in the target person values that make him or her resilient. In this case, the educator will motivate the person by using the demerits and merits of a particular behavior. For instance, when a child grows up in a low-cost neighborhood, the educator can provide rules that the child and provide reasons that oppose the use of drugs. In this case, the application of regulations creates some degree of authority on the part of the educator. When rules are given, but the child is left to act individual, it makes the process of family education to be severe, and as such, this approach handles some of the demerits that relate to instrument-technical perspective. The focus is to introduce some degree of discipline in the exercise of family education.

Family Life Education is a dynamic subject which does not have automatic outcomes. Human behavior cannot be confined to specific intervention programs. For this reason, there should be a position which admits both extremes of opposing intervention initiatives. Human behavior reacts depending on the environment. A child from a low-cost family will engage in crime because of inadequate needs. The temptation to engage in crime is because there is some impetus towards that particular conduct. Contrarily, there are those rare cases where a child from a privileged background will engage in misconduct because of some mysterious tendencies. Arguably, these two situations are contradictory. However, as a family educator, one cannot solve these situations by relying solely on instrumental-technical or critical-emancipator types of programming. Family Life Education is a field which should be dynamic. It is not advisable for a family educator to concentrate on a single approach in solving specific problems in society. Considerably, this is what is addressed in the ecological risk-protected approach. In this, the family educator can handle situations which situations that require empowerment and those that need the application of some degree of stern action.


The Ecological Risk- Protective model has transformed the Family Life Education.  Unlike the critical-emancipator and instrumental –technical programming that focused on conflicting perspectives, the Ecological Risk-Protective model is tolerant of the ideas of both sides of Family Life Education. Ecological Risk concentrates on the situational factors and how they impact on the behavior of an individual. On the other hand, the protective perspective looks at how some children manage to overwhelm the environmental pressures and observe the required social conduct. When this approach is entrenched in family life education, it will resolve some of the issues that educators face. As such, conflicts between concepts or theories should not impede family life educators’ role.  


Bogenschneider, K. (1996). An ecological risk/protective theory for building prevention programs, policies, and community capacity to support youth. Family Relations, 127-138.

Coney, C. L. (2015). Critical Thinking in its Contexts and in Itself. Educational Philosophy and Theory47(5), 515-528. Watson, S. L., & Watson, W. R. (2011). Critical, emancipatory, and pluralistic research for education: A review of critical systems theory. Journal of Thought46

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By Hanna Robinson

Hanna has won numerous writing awards. She specializes in academic writing, copywriting, business plans and resumes. After graduating from the Comosun College's journalism program, she went on to work at community newspapers throughout Atlantic Canada, before embarking on her freelancing journey.

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