Understanding Teenage Risk-taking Behavior

Teenage Risk-taking Behavior is Nothing New

Whether you’re reading this article and you’re a teenager or you were a teenager at some point, it’s safe to say that the majority of you engaged in risk-taking behavior during those years. It’s part of growing up, it’s practically expected and you may even have fond memories of some of it!

Yet, is there a reason that this type of behavior happens at the time that it does? Also, why is it that some of us are more prone to it than others? A study taken from demographics of teenagers from across the world can help shed some light on this subject to help us better understand teenage risk-taking behavior.

A Scientific Study of Teenage Risk-taking Behavior

A great deal of study and observation has gone on in this particular part of human development. A professor by the name of Laurence Steinberg from Temple University had this to say regarding his study of more than 5,000 teenagers and young adults:

“The context in which kids grow up must matter a great deal, and that adolescent recklessness isn’t the inevitable byproduct of the period’s biology.”

  – Laurence Steinberg

What Dr. Steinberg’s study found and what he is saying here is that teenage risk-taking behavior does not just have to do with one’s genes and biology. This means that it is not necessarily inevitable that someone will engage in teenage risk-taking behavior and that we simply have to accept it and roll with the punches.

Dr. Laurence’s study showed that teenage risk-taking behavior had much more to do with set and setting. Those from much more conservative societies were more reluctant to engage in poor decision making and debauchery than countries and societies where they knew they could “get away with it.” In other words, the simple concept of being able to do something bad and not having anyone find out about it can be enough to push even the most straight-edged individual over the edge to making a mistake.

What This Study Determines for Teenage Risk-taking Behavior

What this means in the simplest way is that in order for the behavior to take place the opportunity must happen as well. As we mentioned, even a teenager who is typically “goody goody” and would not normally engage in any teenage risk-taking behavior is capable of being found red-handed if given the right opportunity. What this determines, though, is that much like talking to children about sex or drugs, risk-taking behavior is something that can be mitigated.

Steps in Order to Subvert Teenage Risk-taking Behavior

As with any subject that can be potentially awkward to have with a child or loved one, a parent or guardian may wish to relate their own experiences. Sharing their mistakes and problem-solving solutions prior to any warning signs can help give their loved ones some context when they finally do find themselves at a moment of opportunity. We are not all so naïve to expect that the advice will be taken heed, but, at the very least, an individual may have the tools and information necessary to make a more levelheaded decision than those who were not as informed.

Letting Individuals Have their own Experiences with Teenage Risk-taking Behavior

In the end, there will always be situations that teenagers will find themselves in where they can get involved in risk-taking behavior and that they will not get “caught”. Speaking to those individuals though: it is important to remember that it is much less about being “caught”, and much more about how that action will have personal and direct consequences on yourselves. The most important concept to understand is that we are all responsible for our own decision making. Just because we may be able to “get away with it” does not mean that it is a good idea.

Share Your Own Experiences and Lessons Learned

Do you have your own story to share about a decision you wish you hadn’t made during your adolescence? Or perhaps one that you learned a positive lesson from? Share in the comments below! We appreciate having our readers get involved and share their stories from all walks of life. Thank you for being a part of the Core Coaching Groups community!

About Avinash Satz, CPC

Avi Satz, CPC, specializes in helping others achieve a fulfilling and impactful life. He has years of experience in personal development and professional leadership. His passion for helping people experience breakthroughs is what founded Core Coaching Groups and the amazing community it has built.

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