Early Childhood Risk Factors, Prevention and Intervention

Authored by: Ruth Paris , Jessica Dym Bartlett , Corinne Beaugard

Routledge International Handbook of Delinquency and Health

Print publication date:  August  2019
Online publication date:  August  2019

Print ISBN: 9780367256920
eBook ISBN: 9780429289194
Adobe ISBN:


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It is well known that a strong start in early childhood is one of the most important predictors of health and development over the lifespan. During this period, young children are most vulnerable to the harmful effects of adversity that can cause long-term damage, influencing the development of skills in multiple domains. Consequently, early childhood is also the time to implement preventive interventions to optimize growth and development and avoid untoward outcomes in adolescence and beyond. This chapter explains why early childhood is vitally important to our understanding of later life health and well-being. We begin by reviewing risk factors that influence young children at the individual, family and environmental levels. Subsequently, we discuss relational disruptions to their developmental processes including parental mental health and substance use disorders and child abuse and neglect. We then review the adversities that can affect adolescent physical health, school and social experiences, psychological functioning and juvenile delinquency. Importantly, protective factors are considered at multiple levels. Ultimately, the chapter ends by discussing both early childhood prevention programs, such as Head Start, Early Head Start and home visitation, and interventions, such as Child–Parent Psychotherapy, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up and the Circle of Security.

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