Risk and Protective Factors - a Proven Framework

Reducing child abuse and neglect 90% by 2030 is clearly a challenging task. Some people we talk to have said they feel overwhelmed at the thought of it – it seems too large and too complicated. Where do we begin? What are the most important things to do to give us the best chance to reach this goal in Lane County?


The good news is that we are not just starting this effort. We have looked across the country and the world to find individual actions or strategies that have worked - or failed - elsewhere. This large body of research and practical experience gives us much to draw on - which means we have many parts of the solution already.


Our task at 90by30 is to assemble the parts, the ones that have been proven to work, into a well-coordinated and strategic plan – and then implement that plan. What we have learned from the prevention efforts of the past 20 years is that an effective plan begins with identifying risk and protective factors for the population we want to help – in our case, children and youth.



Risk factors are those things known to increase the odds for a bad or negative outcome. Smoking is a risk factor for lung cancer.



Protective factors are those things known to lower the odds for a negative or bad outcome. Regular exercise is a known protective factor for obesity. Protective factors not only prevent negative outcomes but also help us achieve positive outcomes, such as better health and greater well-being.


Decades of research have already identified many risk and protective factors for child abuse and neglect. For example, living in a warm and connected neighborhood, where people feel cared for and know each other, is a key child abuse and neglect protective factor. What we find on the other side of the coin - financial stress, social isolation, alcohol and drug abuse, and community inaction and silence about abuse - are the risk factors for child abuse and neglect.


A key part of achieving our goal of 90by30 is to increase the known protective factors and reduce or entirely do away with risk factors within and across Lane County neighborhoods and communities. Using the 90by30 plan for taking on risk factors and promoting protective factors, all people in Lane County can find a role for themselves that fits their own interests and skills.