Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 313–325 | Cite as

Resilience and Deviant Behavior Among Institutionalized Adolescents: The Relationship with Significant Adults

  • Catarina Pinheiro Mota
  • Mónica Costa
  • Paula Mena Matos


The transition to institutional care often implies the separation from a dysfunctional environment, marked by neglect, abandonment and lack of emotional responsiveness, which makes youth more vulnerable to the development of deviant behavior. The quality of the relationship established with significant figures within the institution as well as with teachers is suggested as a protective factor for the development of resilience and the detachment from deviant behaviour. The present study aims to test the predictive effect of the quality of relationship to institutional caregivers and teachers on the development of resilience and deviant behaviour in institutionalized adolescents. We also intend to test the mediating effect of resilience in the previous association. The sample was composed by 202 institutionalized adolescents, 12–18 aged (M = 14.96, SD = 1.80), and from both genders. Data were collected using self-report questionnaires. The results demonstrated that the quality of relationship with significant figures was positively associated with resilience and may play an important role in preventing deviant behaviour. There was also a total mediation effect of resilience on the association between quality of relationship with significant figures and development of deviant behaviour. The results suggest that the affective reorganization of institutionalized adolescents can be promoted by the establishment of safe havens, which reflect feelings of belonging and acceptance, facilitating a more adaptive experience.


Institutionalization Resilience Deviant behaviour Significant figures 



This research was partially funded by FCT under the project PEst-C/PSI/UI0050/2011 and FEDER funds through the COMPETE program under the Project FCOMP-01-0124-FEDER-022714.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Catarina Pinheiro Mota
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mónica Costa
    • 3
  • Paula Mena Matos
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Education and PsychologyUniversity of Trás-os-Montes and Alto Douro (UTAD)Vila RealPortugal
  2. 2.Center for PsychologyUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal
  3. 3.Faculty of Psychology and EducationUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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