Special Resource Material Developed by the Center

Title: Youth Risk Taking Behavior: The Role of Schools (A Policy & Practice Analysis)

Description: Risk taking is natural. As the bumper stickers says: Risk taking happens! Risk taking behavior may be beneficial or harmful. Some risk taking is unintentional. But a considerable amount stems from proactive or reactive motivation. For schools, some forms of student risk taking behavior are a necessity, and some forms are a problem. With respect to the former, it is clear that learning frequently is a risky business. That is, it is a given that successful instruction calls for students to take risks (e.g., to attempt hard tasks and risk making errors). It is also a given, however, that schools must contend with risk takers whose behavior may be harmful to themselves and/or others. More broadly, school decision makers must approach harmful risk taking behaviors, and all other factors that can be barriers to learning and teaching, in terms of the overall mission of the institution and ongoing efforts to improve schools. From this perspective, they need to consider the impact of the current trend to adopt problem-specific programs focused on students per se. They also need to analyze the role school policies and practices may be playing in stimulating such behaviors. The analysis presented in this brief was designed to highlight these matters by viewing youth risk taking behavior in the context of school improvement efforts.

Access at:   http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/policyissues/risktaking.pdf  126kb; 27pp