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Summer Community Newsletter 2008
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International Researcher Presents at Youthline

 

In a seminar at Youthline’s Ponsonby House, Professor Michael Ungar presented a seminar titled “Hidden resilience amongst youth and families. Nurturing contextual constructions of positive development.” 

 

Ungar’s seminar was primarily focused on shifting away from the current accepted understanding of ‘resilience’ as an ‘idea of people overcoming greater adversity.’ He sought to explore the implications of using this definition as a one-size-fits all approach which is used to try and help troubled minors in the youth sector.  

 

Ungar constructed his argument by using amusing anecdotes which kept the audience engaged and helped to explain some of the more complex aspects of his work. He argues that for children and adolescents ‘resilience’ is the way in which they interact with their surrounding environment and is also how they utilise the resources available to them, as best they can.  

 

Ungar’s notion of ‘hidden resilience’ follows on from this, as he argues individual behaviours should be understood within their specific context. He argues that ‘resilience’ should be founded on helping kids ‘navigate’ their way to resources which are meaningful to them and that this can be achieved by mutual ‘negotiation’ between the minor and the individual or organisation who are trying to help them.  

 

A strong advocate of ‘substitution’, Ungar further argued that we live in a society which tends to ‘suppress’ behaviour rather than considering the specific context and available resources which are generating this behaviour. He argued that if there was more of a focus on substituting resources and contexts which are causing delinquent behaviour, there would be more positive outcomes in behaviour development.  

 

For more information on Ungar’s work click here.  




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