"Resilience is a concept that originated in physics. Once transplanted into the field of developmental science and social behavioral research a generation ago, it inspired the investigation of key protective factors, opportunities, and experiences that enable young people to resist stress and even thrive in the face of adversity. Increasingly, it is the basis for programs, policies, and public health practice that seeks to employ the dual strategy of reducing risk while enhancing protective factors that place (or keep) young people in a healthy developmental pathway.
The word resilience comes from the Latin resilientia meaning the ‘action of rebounding.’ The Oxford English Dictionary defines resilience as ‘The action or an act of rebounding or springing back.’ The field of physics first adopted the term resilience to describe the capacity of materials to retrieve their initial shape following exposure to external pressure (i.e., flexibility and elasticity). More broadly, resilience represents the capacity of dynamic systems to withstand or recover from significant disturbances. Therefore, scientists can examine resilience at many levels, over varying time frames, and from different disciplinary perspectives. Some scientists might use terms like equilibrium or homeostasis when they are considering this process of ‘righting oneself,’ either as a system or as an individual. In developmental science, resilience refers to positive adaptation in the context of significant threats to development (i.e., adversity). Most developmental research focuses on resilience within individuals, although researchers also apply the concept to systems within which individual and collective development occurs such as families, classrooms, schools, or communities. In short, the term is widely applicable, well beyond its traditional, specific use in describing the ability of materials to resist stress or insult, or the capacity of objects to resume their form or function following challenging or demanding circumstances."
Resilience by Resnick, 2007