Causal Risk Factors
Grand Canyon: SPE 513
October 5, 2011
Causal Factors coincide
Identifying and understanding the causes of Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD) can help in developing successful interventions and prevention strategies. Research has been unable to show that any specific factors cause EBD, but causal risk factors seem to concur with EBD. These risk factors are categorized as either internal (biological) or external (family, school, and culture) (Yell, Meadows, Drasgow, and Shriner, 2009).
Internal risk factors encompass an individual’s characteristics, while external risk factors encompass family, school, and culture. Depending on the developmental stage of the child, these risk factors have different effects on the child. These risk factors increase the likelihood of future emotional or behavioral problems. Often a child is exposed to more than one of these risk factors making it even more likely that they will exhibit EBD (Yell, et al, 2009).
Biological risk factors are either physiological (how the body works) or psychological (arising in the mind) in nature. Thus cognitive deficits, hyperactivity, and concentration problems are three factors that fit into the biological category. Cognitive deficits can lead to poor problem-solving skills, poor social skills and behavioral deviation (Yell, et al, 2009). Hyperactivity and concentration problems can make it hard for students to follow lectures or conversations. Frustration at not being able to keep up, can lead to problematic behaviors.
Conditions in the home can be risk factors for students with EBD. Family factors may include poverty, abuse, and harsh or ineffective discipline. These factors can have an impact on a child’s learning of social and behavioral skills. Children learn inappropriate behavior from their parents and siblings that makes it hard to be successful in the school setting. According to Yell, Meadows, Drasgow, and Shriner (2009), poverty “may be the single most common denominator for risk of behavioral deviation.” (p. 11)
School environment can also be considered risk factors for EBD. Inappropriate social behaviors can even be learned or reinforced at school. If teachers ignore bulling and harassment, it seems like they are condoning such behavior. Unclear or absent rules and school policies covering student behavior may add to EBD. Students need structure, but discipline needs to be fair and take into account student differences. The range of acceptable student behavior is narrow and often biased. Often a power struggle ensues between the student with EBD and the staff. Classroom practices can also affect student behavior and performance. Poor teacher practices may include not interacting with students, not giving praise or providing opportunities for the students with EBD to correctly respond. This causes students to get frustrated and act up even more (Yell, et al, 2009).
Culture can also influence student behavior. If children are exposed to a variety of attitudes, prejudices and expectations, they adopt or mimic these behaviors. Cultural biases needs to be eliminated from the classroom as much as possible. Cultural differences need to be taken into consideration when working with students who have EBD. In some cultures there is a little adult supervision. Children are left to fend for themselves, and they do not learn boundaries or appropriate social skills. Even the gang culture can influence students with EBD (GCU, 2011). Gangs become the child’s family.
Rick factors do not take place in isolation. They are intertwined and change over time. Understanding risk factors and the interplay between them can help in the identification of students with EBD. This is the first step in deciding on intervention.
Interventions are as various as the behaviors exhibited by students with EBD. No one intervention will be successful at mitigating the...