SAFER Training Programme (English)

Resilience Theoretical Background – Resilience in the School Environment

In a school context, poor peer relationships, bullying and negative teacher-pupil interactions are associated with increased risk of conduct disordered behaviors and poorer academic outcomes (Lal et al. 2014). Nevertheless, research has shown that children who experience heightened risk factors can also develop normally and demonstrate resiliency in the face of stressors (Rutter et al., 2006). That is, children who are resilient function better in their social and academic environment, demonstrate more prosocial behavior and are less likely to experience the negative effects of adverse circumstances or have ongoing difficulties later in life (Bellis et al., 2018). Children’s social and emotional competence, including their coping and problem-solving skills, as well as their ability regulate their emotions are important protective factors and have been linked to better social and emotional functioning, more positive peer relationships and better academic outcomes (Rutter et al., 2006). Positive social interactions have also been found to predict good child psychological and behavioral adjustment in the classroom (Ungar, 2011). Importantly, children who end up doing well despite adversity usually have at least one positive, supportive relationship with at a parent, caregiver or another adult (Hobcraft & Kiernan, 2010).

These supportive relationships play an important role in helping children develop adaptive social and emotional skills, thereby providing a foundation for further skill development and achievement (Heckman, 2008). Engagement within a supportive school milieu, including supportive peer groups and positive teacher-student relationships, can also significantly promote child adjustment, help children to develop a more positive self-perception and achieve their full academic potential (Cleary et al., 2004; Southwick et al., 2014).