against developmentally salient risk factors. Poverty, family dysfunction and disruption, and factors associated with school and the community are particularly illustrative.
Negative life events at the family, school or peer, and community levels have been associated with multiple psychopathological conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and disruptive disorders (see Craske and Zucker, 2001; La Greca and Silverman, 2002). Similarly, social support and problem-solving coping appear to have broad protective effects (e.g., Pina, Villalta, et al., 2008).
Studies using nationally representative samples and studies of diverse ethnic, gender, and age groups have found that behavior problems involving serious antisocial behavior, substance use (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs), and risky sexual behavior have common risk and protective factors across developmental stages and across multiple levels of the social ecology, including individual genetic factors, dysfunctional parent-child interactions, and poverty. They also often occur together in adolescence (Biglan, Brennan, et al., 2004).
There appears to be an interrelated set of developmental factors in which earlier risk (or protective) factors increase the likelihood of later ones and in which earlier manifestations of problem behaviors increase the likelihood of later risk factors and problem behaviors (Biglan, Brennan, et al., 2004). Furthermore, early developmental tasks result in developmental competencies during childhood (e.g., verbal fluency) or deficits (e.g., insecure attachment) that can be risk or protective factors at later developmental stages. For example, difficult temperament, which is biologically determined, affects the parenting an infant receives, which in turn affects development of early attachment.
Under one model of the development of a set of problem behaviors—antisocial behavior, high-risk sex, academic failure, and substance use—early family conflict was found to lead to poor family involvement, which later leads to poor parental monitoring and associating with deviant peers (Ary, Duncan, et al., 1999). Both poor monitoring and association with deviant peers lead to higher levels of problem behaviors.
A multiyear retrospective study of the effects of adverse childhood experiences or childhood trauma (psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, witnessing violence against the mother, living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or incarcerated) identified strong graded relationships between these experiences and a range of negative outcomes in adulthood. Adult outcomes associated with these childhood experiences included alcoholism and alcohol abuse, depression,