Types of risk-taking behaviour and its consequences

Adolescents can make impulsive decisions resulting in dangerous situations. For instance, reckless behaviours such as driving above speed limits or under the influence of alcohol or khat could result in motor vehicle injuries, which are quite a common problem in urban areas.

Adolescents are also likely to be involved in provocative activities such as arguing and testing limits with peers and adults, resulting in emotional and physical damage (for example, unnecessary quarrelling with someone may be followed by physical violence and feelings of guilt or unhappiness). Experimentation with substances could result in short- and long-term consequences that include effects on most other risk-taking behaviour. For example, alcohol abuse can not only lead to reckless driving; it might also lead to early sexual activity, unprotected sexual activity or having non-regular sexual partners (one-night stands). All of these behaviours could have immediate and/or long-term health, emotional, psychological, social and economic consequences.

What are the possible consequences of unprotected one-night stands?

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There is a very high chance that such risky behaviour will lead to multiple reproductive health problems. In the short term the adolescent might pick up a sexually transmitted infection such as gonorrhoea (which is curable if treated). However, they also carry the risk of getting infected by HIV and this is not curable, although it can be treated to slow the progression of the disease to full blown AIDs. If the girl also becomes pregnant there is a risk of transmitting the infection to the baby, which is likely to be born undernourished and prematurely. These are long-term problems which are likely to be passed on to the next generation.

In general, it is important to note that risk-taking among young people varies with cultural factors, individual personality, needs, social influences and pressures, and available opportunities. And when young people test their limits and underestimate the risks involved, you need to realise that this type of behaviour is age-appropriate, and encourage adults to help them avoid serious consequences.

Last modified: Tuesday, 1 July 2014, 12:12 PM