NJCMO Newsletter

At Risk Youth & Behavior

So, what is a risk-taking behavior? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define it as “any behavior with a potential for causing harm.” This can include behaviors like drinking alcohol, using drugs, engaging in unprotected sex, or driving without a seatbelt. There are many reasons why youth partake in risky behaviors, but some common ones are peer pressure, testing limits, and boredom.

In America, one out of every seven young people is considered “at-risk.” This means that they are more likely to experience negative life outcomes such as dropping out of school, becoming unemployed, or being involved in criminal activity. Additionally, at-risk youth are more likely to suffer from mental health issues and substance use problems.

There are a number of factors that can contribute to making a young person at-risk. Poverty is one of the biggest contributors to at-risk status; in fact, children who live in poverty are nearly twice as likely to be at risk as their peers who come from higher-income families. Other important factors include a lack of parental support, being exposed to violence or other trauma, and environmental factors.

Consequences of Risk-Taking Behaviors

There can be both short-term and long-term consequences of risk-taking behaviors.

  • Short-term consequences are those that happen right away, like getting a traffic ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.
  • Long-term consequences are those that can have an impact on your life for years to come, like developing a substance use problem.
  • Physical consequences of risk-taking behaviors can include injuries, chronic health problems, and even death.
  • Emotional consequences can include anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. Risk-taking behaviors can also lead to problems at home, school, and work.

Preventing Risk-Taking Behaviors

So how can we prevent youth from engaging in risk-taking behaviors? One way is to educate them about the risks and consequences of these behaviors. This can be done in schools, community organizations, or even at home.

At-risk youth are more likely to face a variety of challenges, including poverty, violence, and substance use. As a result, they often have difficulty succeeding in school and achieving their goals. Peer mentoring programs can provide much-needed support for at-risk youth. In these programs, older students or adults are paired with younger mentees and provide guidance and role modeling. The mentor can assist the mentee in managing the complexities of adolescence, offering guidance in life planning, personal development, and goal setting. The mentor can also serve as a positive influence and positive role model. Studies have shown that peer mentoring programs can have a significant impact on at-risk youth, helping them to improve their grades, stay in school, and avoid involvement with the criminal justice system. As a result, these programs can play an important role in promoting success for at-risk youth.

If you or someone you know is struggling with risk-taking behaviors, there is help available. Talk to your doctor, a mental health professional, or contact a local helpline.

At-Risk Youth FAQs

What are types of risk-taking behaviors for today’s youth?

Today’s youth engage in a variety of risk-taking behaviors, some of which may lead to psychological distress or trauma, such as substance experimentation. Other risks could potentially cause bodily harm, sickness, or even fatality. These include engaging in unprotected sexual practices or reckless driving. Both these forms of risks can have severe implications on a young person’s well-being.

Why do teenagers partake in risky behaviors?

Teenagers are often driven by social risks–the fear of being rejected by their peers. They may also feel a need to test limits set by authority figures. And finally, many teens crave the attention that comes with participating in risky behaviors.

What makes some people more prone to risk taking behaviors?

There are a variety of social and environmental risk factors that can contribute to a youth’s propensity for risk taking behaviors. Some of these factors include:

-Having parents who are overly protective or dismissive of risks
-Having little or no access to positive adult role models
-Living in neighborhoods with high levels of crime and violence
-Suffering from poverty or socioeconomic disadvantage
-Engaging in risky behaviors at an early age (e.g., starting drinking/smoking/drug use early)

What percentage of juveniles are incarcerated in America?

In America, the incarceration rate for juveniles has been on the decline in recent years. According to the most recent data from the Department of Justice, the juvenile incarceration rate was down to 872 per 100,000 youths in 2015. However, this still works out to nearly one in every 1,000 juveniles being incarcerated. 

There are a number of factors that can contribute to why a juvenile might be incarcerated. In many cases, it can be due to socio-economic factors such as poverty or poor educational opportunities. Additionally, juveniles may be more likely to engage in criminal activity if they have been exposed to violence or have a history of substance use.

Are youth from wealthier families still at-risk?

Youth from wealthier families may engage in risky behaviors like drinking and driving, using drugs, or having unprotected sex. They may also be susceptible to mental health problems like depression or anxiety. These behaviors can be influenced by increased access to items like cars, alcohol, and drugs, as well as added pressure to succeed academically and socially, leading to heightened stress and potential mental health issues. Therefore, it is crucial to bear in mind that regardless of personal background, everyone can still be at risk.

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