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That Which Does Not Kill You Makes You Stronger: Runaway Youth’s Resilience to Depression in the Family Context


  • This work was supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Grant R01 DA 013549.

concerning this article should be addressed to Gizem Erdem, Department of Human Development and Family Science, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210-1295. Electronic mail may be sent to


The present study sought to uncover the relationship between risk and protective factors for depressive symptomatology among runaway youth. To that aim, 3 models of resiliency—the compensatory, risk-protective, and challenge models—were tested separately on girls and boys. The data came from a cross-sectional survey on a sample of 140 runaway adolescents between the ages of 12 and 17 years who were recruited from the only runaway crisis shelter in a large Midwestern city. Risk factors in the proposed model included primary caretaker’s depressive symptoms, family conflict, and adolescent’s and primary caretaker’s verbal aggression; protective factors included adolescent’s report of task-oriented coping and family cohesion. Findings supported the challenge model for predicting adolescent depressive symptoms, suggesting that moderate levels of risk can be beneficial for these runaway adolescents. In addition, risk and protective factors differed by adolescent gender. Implications for preventive interventions and future research are discussed.