Internal risk factors encompass an individual’s characteristics, while external risk factors
encompass family, school, and culture. Depending on the developmental stage of the child, these
risk factors have different effects on the child. These risk factors increase the likelihood of future
emotional or behavioral problems. Often a child is exposed to more than one of these risk factors
making it even more likely that they will exhibit EBD (Yell, et al, 2009).
Biological risk factors are either physiological (how the body works) or psychological
(arising in the mind) in nature. Thus cognitive deficits, hyperactivity, and concentration problems
are three factors that fit into the biological category. Cognitive deficits can lead to poor problem-
solving skills, poor social skills and behavioral deviation (Yell, et al, 2009). Hyperactivity and
concentration problems can make it hard for students to follow lectures or conversations.
Frustration at not being able to keep up, can lead to problematic behaviors.
Conditions in the home can be risk factors for students with EBD. Family factors may
include poverty, abuse, and harsh or ineffective discipline. These factors can have an impact on a
child’s learning of social and behavioral skills. Children learn inappropriate behavior from their
parents and siblings that makes it hard to be successful in the school setting. According to Yell,
Meadows, Drasgow, and Shriner (2009), poverty “may be the single most common denominator
for risk of behavioral deviation.” (p. 11)
School environment can also be considered risk factors for EBD. Inappropriate social
behaviors can even be learned or reinforced at school. If teachers ignore bulling and harassment,