Keeping Youth Safe and Drug Free

Risk Factors

Upon completion of a comprehensive review of community data and Pennsylvania Youth Survey data, the CTC For Youth Board identifies risk factors that increase the likelihood of youth drug use and violence, as well as those protective factors that shield youngsters from problems. Prioritization of these risk and protective factors results in the development of a comprehensive strategic plan to step ahead of problems with far-reaching and long-lasting solutions.

What are Risk Factors?
Risk factors such as availability of drugs, family conflict, academic failure, and favorable attitudes toward problem behavior are those conditions that increase the likelihood that a child will develop one or more behavior problems in adolescence. CTC attempts to identify and reduce the risks present in the community, home and school. 

What are Protective Factors?
Protective factors, like individual characteristics, bonding, healthy beliefs and clear standards, are aspects of adolescents’ lives that counter risk factors or provide a buffer against them. A key strategy of CTC is to enhance protective factors that promote positive behavior, well being, and personal success. 

What Risk Factors has CTC Identified for Youth in the Norristown Area?
The Norristown CTC for Youth Board has identified four priority risk factors that can lead youth in the greater Norristown area to engage in problem behaviors:

  1. Friends Who Engage in the Problem Behavior

    Because of the importance of peer approval to adolescents, friends’ attitudes and actions can be a powerful factor in teens’ behavior. This risk factor is one of the most consistent predictors of the presence of problem behaviors.

  2. Lack of School Commitment
    This refers to the young person who no longer sees their role of student as a viable one and no longer appreciates the value of an education. The truancy data reported by school districts underscores this perception.

  3. Perceived Availability of Handguns

    Statistics show that the more available firearms are in a community, the higher the violent crime rates tend to be, and, conversely, fewer firearms in a community is correlated with lower violent crime rates.

  4. Family Management

    Families experiencing stress such as marital problems, unemployment, and poor communication skills have a more challenging time working through the pre-adolescent and adolescent stages without tremendous turmoil or negative outcomes. Poor family management practices include lack of clear expectations of behavior, failure of parents to monitor their children, and excessively severe or inconsistent punishment. 

How is CTC Responding to These Risk Factors?

Norristown CTC provides prevention education through forums, presentations, community outreach, summer communication programs, and informational mailings. In addition, the CTC for Youth Board is undertaking a series of programmatic strategies to assist schools and families in helping youth to avoid problematic behavior:

Aggression Replacement Training (ART) – Research-based approach for helping youth understand and control their anger.

Guiding Good Choices and Staying Connected With Your Teen – Five-week, national model programs designed to assist parents in preparing their children/teens to make positive decisions and reduce the risk factors for drug use in adolescence.   

Norristown Violence Prevention Initiative (NVPI) – A local replication of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) Comprehensive Gang Model providing intervention and pro-social opportunities for high-risk or gang involved youth.

Say It Straight/Hablando Claro – An evidence-based communication training program designed to help students develop empowering communication skills and behaviors and increase self-awareness, self-efficacy and personal and social responsibility.

Social Marketing – Campaigns such as Find Your 25th Hour, Education=Options and Don’t Smoke Your Future are intended to increase public awareness to pressing community issues.

Social Media – Our e-mail-based Google group, Norristown Positive Youth Network, shares local news and events from greater Norristown area organizations. Norristown CTC is also active on several social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Strengthening Families Program 10-14/Familias Fuertes 10-14 – National model, seven-week family strengthening program for parents and youth ages 10-14 that helps families reduce the risk for serious problems by guiding youth through the teen years.

For more information on our Protective and Risk Factors, see our Fact Sheet.


Join Us!

You can help make a difference in the lives of our youth by joining our CTC Youth Prevention Board; lending your expertise; spreading the word about CTC to your friends and family; or donating your services to support youth-based organizations. For more information, contact Viviann Schorle, CTC community mobilizer, at 610-630-2111 ext. 257 or

Family Services is proud to be the lead agency/fiscal agent for Norristown Area CTC for Youth. Family Services is a nonprofit social service agency that serves children, seniors and families throughout Montgomery County, Pa.


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