Risk Taking Behaviour and its Management in Adolescence
Taking risks, whether it is major or minor, is an inherent part of our lives. As is often quoted, the journey of life is at best described as a gamble, wherein each individual is striving to achieve a target or a goal, making an investment (of one’s energies, efforts or resources) at the cost of some kind of gain or loss. However, while uncertainty is definitely an inevitable characteristic of life, certain decisions to act can at times disregard the potential consequences of the action for self or/and others. Such behavior is typically characterized as risk taking.
Understanding Risk Taking Behaviour
Human behaviour is driven by its expected consequences. Almost all of us at some point of time do behave in certain ways which could have or did lead to adverse outcomes. Despite being aware of the potential danger to self and others, some individuals have a higher tendency to repeatedly and voluntarily engage in such behaviour.
Therefore, common examples of risk taking behavior could include not just substance abuse, rash or reckless driving, indulging in thrill seeking behavior or performing physical stunts, but could also include more common place actions which we may not recognize as potentially risky. For instance, sharing personal information, details, or visuals via social media, defying traffic rules, deliberate self-harm behavior, gambling, cheating, bullying, anonymous chatting, unreported absenteeism, pornography or piracy as well.
Relationship between Adolescence and Risk Taking
Such risk-taking behaviours are hypothesized to be gaining popularity amongst the teenagers who are currently in an experimental phase of development. The notion of ‘exploring freedom’ often brings these teenagers to a vulnerable state of risk taking behaviour. In fact, adolescence is typically characterized as a phase of developing one’s identity, thereby explaining the teenagers’ need to explore their surroundings, display a curiosity, and a striving for an independence. In fact, this is also a stage of life characterized by special emphasis being attached to one’s peer groups, almost to the neglect of all other agencies of social influence. A combination of such factors can go a long way in explaining the higher prevalence of risk taking behavior amongst adolescents.
Importance of Managing Risk Taking Behaviour
Tendencies of risk-taking, if not identified at an early stage, could have adverse impact on the individual’s physical as well as psychological well-being, indirectly also hampering interpersonal and professional functioning in the long term. Therefore, it becomes essential to ensure that the teenagers are aware of the factors associated with such risk taking behaviour and their consequences. Further, we need to encourage a de-stigmatization so that the teenagers do not hesitate in talking about and seeking the help of a mental health professional to deal with such tendencies. Considering the potential consequences of such behaviour, it becomes necessary to highlight the role of the peers and media in contributing to its growing prevalence. Therefore, parental and teacher involvement, with accessibility towards mental health professionals, is essential to ensure a timely identification and adequate interventions to check such tendencies amongst the youth of our country.