For some groups of children, the pressures on their lives stemming from within their family, their peers, or the wider community will increase the chances of taking part in risky behaviours and are likely to worsen the negative outcomes associated with truanting, substance misuse, teen pregnancy, and involvement in crime. In turn, this is likely to impact on the subsequent pathways they take in their transition to independent adulthood. Of particular interest are specific vulnerable groups of young people, such as those with emotional and behaviour problems, young people exposed to family break-up, young people in care, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, early school leavers and young mothers.
Not all young people are affected in the same way by the experience of adversity. There are some individuals who seem to be able to 'beat the odds' and achieve unexpected high levels of well-being and positive functioning, a phenomenon also referred to as resilience. However, to design effective policy to promote opportunities for positive outcomes we need to improve our understanding of the factors and processes that promote positive adjustment in the face of adversity, especially among young people deemed to be vulnerable and at risk. Relative to other youth, we know that many of these vulnerable and disadvantaged groups are more likely to be unemployed, to have children outside of marriage, to be socially isolated, to commit crimes and to live in poverty. There remains however, a pressing need for better understanding of these specific and cumulative risk effects.