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Keywords:

  • resilience;
  • adolescents;
  • triangulated research design

Purpose:

To explore what resilience means to adolescents and whether the Resiliency Scale can accurately measure resilience. Researchers have identified that resilience in children and adolescents may lead to psychosocial maladaption and psychopathology in adulthood. Further research is necessary in order to understand what resilience is in adolescence and to identify those at risk for psychosocial problems.

Design:

A triangulated research design was used to explore the concept of resilience in adolescents. This small pilot study, conducted in 1997, had a purposive sample of 51 10th-grade and 11th-grade volunteers from one inner-city, vocational high school in New England.

Methods:

A researcher-developed demographic tool was used to explore the environment of adversities to which students were exposed. Wagnild and Young's Resiliency Scale was used to measure adolescents' perceptions of their resilience. Focus groups, structured and unstructured interviews, and written stories were used to gather phenomenologic data.

Findings:

Despite the traumatic and violent world in which participants lived, the adolescents ranked themselves as “resilient.” These adolescents believed that being resilient was to be (a) disconnected from others because they could not trust, (b) isolated because they had inadequate or no support systems, and (c) insulated because the emotional pain was too much to bear.

Conclusions:

This study of resilience in adolescence shows the need for further research; the investigators question whether resilience is really a healthy state, and wonder if similar interventions are necessary for both “resilient” and “vulnerable” adolescents.