KU News Release


Sept. 30, 2009
Contact: Kristi Henderson, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, (785) 864-3663

KU researcher wins $1.7 million grant to study resiliency in children

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas researcher hopes to improve treatment for children exposed to trauma or abuse by studying youth who seem to be more resilient than others, thanks to a $1.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

Yo Jackson, associate professor of applied behavioral science and clinical child psychology, became interested in the development of resiliency in children in clinical work as a psychologist.

“I found that I was working with a lot of children exposed to abuse and also found that they often had siblings that were exposed to the same kinds of trauma but seemed to be relatively OK,” Jackson said.

Jackson will use the five-year grant to try to gain a deeper understanding of what determines how a child suffers after trauma and identify what factors can make a child more resilient. Those discoveries could then help inform and improve treatment.

“We need to know more than just that kids suffer after abuse,” Jackson said. “We need to better understand why and how this suffering happens, what individual and environmental factors are actually helpful and which, although they may sound good, are not really all that important. In this way we can be more focused in how we treat kids exposed to child maltreatment and use the small amount of money available for treatment in a way that maximizes its effectiveness.”

Jackson is working on the project with many partners, including Todd Little, KU professor of psychology, who has expertise in coping and adaptive adjustment. Other partners include KU’s Life Span Institute; the Jackson County Children’s Division of the Missouri Department of Social Service; Midwest Foster Care and Adoption Association in Jackson County, Mo.; faculty at University of Missouri-Kansas City; and consultants across the country.

Applied behavioral science, clinical child psychology and psychology are among the more than 55 departments, programs and centers of KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, which also houses the School of the Arts. Faculty in the College possess a broad range of expertise in hundreds of disciplines spanning the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and mathematics, international studies and the arts.


The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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