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. The CTC Risk and Resource Assessment Committee reviewed community and youth data for 20 risk factors that have been linked by research to be predictive of youth anti-social behavior.

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. Family Management
    Families experiencing stress such as marital problems, unemployment, 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.
  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. Truancy and school drop-out are directly correlated to substance abuse and juvenile delinquency.
  3. Favorable Attitudes Toward the Problem Behaviors (Anti-social and AOD)
    As children age and their peers begin to participate in problem behaviors, their attitudes toward those behaviors can become more accepting. This acceptance places them at higher risk.
  4. Availability of Drugs and Firearms
    The more available alcohol and other drugs are in a community, the higher the risk that youth will abuse drugs. Research has shown a corresponding increase between the availability of firearms and an increase in violent crime rates, committed by and against adolescents.

How is CTC Responding to These Risk Factors?

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

Brief Motivational Intervention (BMI) – Targeted counseling for youth cited for a first offense underage drinking and referred by the District Judge. 

Guiding Good Choices – A five-week curriculum designed to assist parents in preparing their children to make positive decisions and identifying the early warning signs of substance use. 

Norristown Violence Prevention Initiative (NVPI) – NVPI offers intervention and pro-social opportunities for high risk youth.

Responsible Alcohol Management Program (RAMP) – RAMP teaches establishments how to identify underage individuals. 

SafeKids: Out of Harm’s Way (Norristown Police Department) – A three-pronged initiative, designed by the Norristown Police Department, to minimize the risks that children face at home, school and in their community. It includes youth education in NASD elementary schools, parent education and community outreach.

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.

Staying Connected With Your Teen – A five-week curriculum that teaches parents how to decrease the chances that their teens will become involved in dangerous situations and stop unhealthy behaviors before they begin.

Sticker Shock – A tested technique to raise community awareness of the penalties and problems associated with purchasing or providing alcohol for anyone under 21 years of age.

Strengthening Families Program 10-14 – A seven-week program for parents and youth ages 10-14 that helps families reduce the risk for serious problems by guiding youth through the teen years. 

Truancy Abatement Initiative – Norristown Area School District staff and community partners promote attendance and education of youth through a variety of programs and services. 

24 Take-Out/Underage Drinking Enforcement – Enforcement of underage drinking laws/nighttime curfew as well as investigative time on hosts, suppliers, or purchasers of alcohol for underage youth through Source Investigations and Shoulder Tap Enforcement. 

52 Pick-Up/Drug Patrols – Police details targeting street level drug dealers with two primary objectives: stop open-air, street corner drug sales and related violence, and identify and target areas youth frequent to obtain illicit drugs. 


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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