According to Dan Roam's book, Blah, Blah, Blah that is not surprising, and is actually GOOD when trying to communicate a complex idea. Roam makes the argument that we simultaneously process details (which words are great for) and the BIG PICTURE (which, well, pictures are good for). Most people understand things better if they are getting info from both channels.
Now that I know this, I figure that it is important that I try to practice it a bit here in our blog. So here goes (please bear with the crude figures...I am going for basic ideas, not high quality artwork!)...
Here at Five Town CTC we often try to explain the idea of risk factors and protective factors for adolescent behaviors. When lots of risks are present in a kid's life, there is a greater likelihood of a negative outcome. When protective factors are present, kids can navigate tough situations and still come out OK. So, perhaps we could compare the teen years to navigating a river system:
Some kids end up on the branches of the river that have hazards (risk factors) like rapids (family conflict) or waterfalls (extreme economic deprivation) or whirlpools (friends who use drugs) or rocks (a community where drug use is the norm). Caring adults can help to divert them from their current path and get them onto safer streams (reduce those risk factors).
Caring adults can also add protection for those in the stream. Rather than exposing kids to the riverways naked, we can put a life jacket on them (provide opportunities), give them a boat (teach them skills), or even bundle them up in a high tech helmet and put them in a river raft (ensure bonding to caring, prosocial adults). Protected kids might even be able to navigate all the river has to offer and come out OK.
To mature all children must navigate the river, but when we are aware of the hazards and what protections we can offer it is more likely they will do so safely—even when we can't remove every hazard.
OK, what do you think? Does the crude sketch help you understand the idea better, or just confuse things more? We would love to hear what you think.