“I Need to Do This on My Own” Resilience and SelfReliance in Urban At-Risk Youths

M (Margriet) Lenkens*, Gerda Rodenburg, L (Loïs) Schenk, GE Nagelhout, F.J. (Frank) van Lenthe, GBM (Godfried) Engbersen, Miranda Sentse, SE (Sabine) Severiens, D Van de Mheen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This qualitative study investigates urban at-risk youths’ perspectives on their
multiproblem situations and explores their needs for support. Semi-structured
interviews were conducted with 23 at-risk youths with varied (externalizing)
problems and risk factors. The data analysis was carried out using an inductive
thematic approach. Four main themes emerged: desistance from delinquent
behavior, need for self-reliance, negative experiences in social relationships and
need for support. The participants indicated a strong need to be(come) selfreliant, which was visible in their statements on independence, coping with
problems and reluctance to seek or accept help, also regarding desistance
from crime. For some, this need for self-reliance seemed to be accompanied by
distrust of others, which appeared related to previous negative experiences in
social interactions. The participants seemed more open to support coming from
someone with similar characteristics or experiences. The findings suggest that in
helping at-risk youths, a delicate balance should be sought between stimulating
autonomy and providing the necessary resources for support. A focus on
strengthening factors that foster resilience is recommended. Future research
could investigate the possible benefits of perceived similarity between youths
and their care providers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1330-1345
JournalDeviant Behavior
Issue number10
Early online date8 May 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Research programs

  • EMC NIHES-02-65-02


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