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Adolescent Risk Behaviors

Adolescent Risk Behaviors: Why Teens Experiment and Strategies to Keep Them Safe

David A. Wolfe
Peter G. Jaffe
Claire V. Crooks
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 292
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  • Book Info
    Adolescent Risk Behaviors
    Book Description:

    This book focuses on the crucial role that relationships play in the lives of teenagers. The authors particularly examine the ways that healthy relationships can help teens avoid such common risk behaviors as substance abuse, dating violence, sexual assault, and unsafe sexual practices. Addressing the current lack of effective prevention programs for teens, they present new strategies for encouraging healthy choices.The book first traces differences between the "rules of relating" for boys and girls and discusses typical and atypical patterns of experimentation in teens. The authors identify the common link among risk behaviors: the relationship connection. In the second part of the book, they examine the principles of successful programs used by schools and communities to cultivate healthy adolescent development. An illuminating conclusion describes the key ingredients for engaging adolescents, their parents, teachers, and communities in the effort to promote healthy, nonviolent relationships among teens.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12744-7
    Subjects: Psychology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Foreword
    (pp. ix-x)

    Current Perspectives in Psychology presents the latest discoveries and developments across the spectrum of the psychological and behavioral sciences. The series explores such important topics as learning, intelligence, trauma, stress, brain development and behavior, anxiety, interpersonal relationships, education, child-rearing, divorce and marital discord, and child, adolescent, and adult development. Each book focuses on critical advances in research, theory, methods, and applications and is designed to be accessible and informative to nonspecialists and specialists alike.

    The focus of this book is on adolescence and the promotion of healthy prosocial development. Problem or at-risk behaviors that often emerge in adolescence include substance...

  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. 1 Valuing Adolescence
    (pp. 1-27)

    We constructed the foundation for this book 15 years ago, when the two senior authors met for the first time over lunch. David Wolfe (a recent arrival to Canada from Florida) was struggling to develop effective interventions for child-abusive parents and had begun working with the local Child Protection Agency as part of his research. Peter Jaffe was facing similar challenges in working with the police and court system’s response to youth and families in crisis. Child abuse and domestic violence were recurring themes in both our research and clinical efforts and quickly became the focus of our luncheon discussion....

  7. 2 Learning the Rules of Relating
    (pp. 28-52)

    From toddlers to teens, children’s relationships are at the core of everyday life. Learning to relate to others is a process shaped over many years, influenced by numerous personal, family, and cultural factors that provide relationship rules and expectations. An understanding of how the rules of relationships develop forces us to examine how boys and girls learn to relate on the basis of gender roles, establishing implicit rules and expectations for acceptable male or female behavior. Throughout childhood, many of the rules learned at an earlier age become established and generalized to new situations. These gendered rules are then carried...

  8. 3 The Dark Side of the Rules
    (pp. 53-73)

    The previous chapter traced normative relationship development from infancy to adolescence, with an emphasis on the crucial role of gender. The rules of relating also have a darker side, at times creating dissonance between one’s personal values and those of the all-important peer group. The themes of relationships and gender rigidity evident in normative adolescent development are mirrored in the forms of violence and abuse that emerge at this age. In this chapter we examine some of the ways in which many forms of violence and abuse surface during the course of developing relationships with peers and romantic partners. In...

  9. 4 Choices and Pressures of Today’s Youth
    (pp. 74-99)

    Adolescents have always had to navigate the murky waters of adult privileges, from smoking and drinking to sexual involvement and romantic relationships. These temptations may prove too enticing to resist, causing some teens to become early starters. Although most teens will eventually try at least some of these behaviors, premature experimenters run the greatest risk for many health and injury consequences associated with such behaviors. Part of adolescent development is learning how to establish one’s own principles and boundaries. Nonetheless, simply letting teens learn for themselves is not an appealing option given the known risks of injury or long-term health...

  10. 5 Making Sense of Making Choices
    (pp. 100-127)

    Adolescence is a stage marked by experimentation with new behaviors, roles, and relationships. In this chapter we consider the reasons why some teens manage the risks associated with such experimentation while others seem less able to stay out of harm’s way. In particular, we focus on many of the identified factors important for understanding adolescents’ choices and actions in the context of this critical stage of development. Considerable knowledge exists of the factors that influence their choices, including risk factors that can make dangerous outcomes more likely and protective factors that lower the risk of making unsafe choices. Our discussion...

  11. 6 What Works in Prevention: Promises and Pitfalls
    (pp. 128-151)

    Efforts to curb sex, drugs, and violence among youth are certainly not new. Programs designed to prevent or redress these problems have been in place for upward of 30 years. In all three of these areas, there are well-designed programs that have been empirically evaluated and found to be effective. At the same time, there are also fad programs that are not based on research or theory and are ineffective or even harmful. A discussion of both—the promising programs and the pitfalls—provides a solid foundation for moving toward an integrated intervention that addresses all three areas simultaneously yet...

  12. 7 The Blueprint: Best Principles for Program Design
    (pp. 152-175)

    In the previous chapter we identified what works in single-focus programs to prevent adolescents from engaging in sex, drug use, and violence. We stressed that effective programs in these areas share similar characteristics, such as being comprehensive and skills-based. In this chapter we return to issues discussed in the first half of the book: the importance of relationships, building youth capacity, and addressing multiple risk factors that co-occur in adolescence. We pull these components together into an integrated framework that represents the whole picture of what effective prevention initiatives require: a comprehensive, skills-based, relationship-focused, health-promoting and harm-reducing approach for engaging...

  13. 8 The Delivery: Best Practices for Strengthening Relationships and Managing Risks
    (pp. 176-198)

    We now turn to the specifics of how to operationalize the principles of an integrated and comprehensive prevention program. Information from the previous chapters on best practices for youth is used to build a picture of what a comprehensive program should look like for this age group. Because social skills are important for specific situations, we examine the most effective ways to teach them to youth in midadolescence. Similarly, because building youth capacity is critical, we consider how this should be accomplished in a school setting. We illustrate this discussion with examples from our school-based program for building healthy relationships,...

  14. 9 The Context: Overcoming Barriers and Engaging Schools
    (pp. 199-223)

    In the previous chapters we described emerging research on the critical aspects of adolescence and promising prevention approaches. This information was integrated into a model of intervention that combines best practices in building youth capacity while addressing specific risk behaviors. Given the underlying theme of relationships, it is possible to integrate substance use and sexual health programs into a larger safety and violence-prevention framework for this age group. We also identified the natural fit between these activities and the school setting, which is an ideal forum for promoting healthy relationships when all partners collaborate in this process.

    The systems pieces...

  15. 10 The Evolution of Universal Efforts to Reduce Adolescent Risk Behaviors
    (pp. 224-236)

    We approached this book from a developmental perspective that informs prevention strategies for youth. In the first half of the book, we traced the importance of relationship development from infancy to adolescence, describing the continuity in how relationships evolve and become an essential centerpiece of how children and youth develop. The importance of gender identity and gender role expectations in the development of both healthy and abusive relationships was emphasized and reemerged in our discussion of the pressures to conform during early adolescence. Major theories were examined to understand why some adolescents develop risky behavior and others are more successful...

  16. References
    (pp. 237-266)
  17. Index
    (pp. 267-276)