A critical review of South African child and youth resilience studies, 2009–2017

Adrian D. van Breda, Linda C. Theron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


In contexts of high levels of structural disadvantage, such as South Africa, resilience among children and youth becomes increasingly important to buffer children and youth from the negative effects of adversity. This article reports on a systematic review of research conducted in South Africa over the period 2009 to 2017 on the resilience of children and youth (ages 0 to 24) from the perspectives of young people themselves. It serves as a follow-up and refinement of an earlier publication in 2010. A total of 61 journal articles are reviewed. Four categories of social-ecological resilience-enablers emerge from these study, viz. personal, relational, structural and spiritual/cultural. Most of the resilience-enablers identified in these studies are in the personal and relational domains. Various reasons for this finding are discussed, and emerging recommendations for service professionals (particularly social worker and educational psychologists) and youth resilience researchers are advanced.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)237-247
Number of pages11
JournalChildren and Youth Services Review
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018


  • Protective resources
  • Resilience
  • Social ecological
  • South Africa
  • Systematic review
  • Young people

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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