Parents and educators can view adolescence as a high-risk time for students, when they are more likely to disconnect from school or try drugs or alcohol. Yet a new study in the journal Child Development Perspectives argues that educators also can leverage teenagers’ greater willingness to take on “positive risks.”
The researchers identified activities that can be beneficial to adolescents, yet carry a challenge and mental or social risks, including: trying out for a sports team, performing in arts or debate, or enrolling in a challenging course.
The article suggests risky behaviors, be they good or bad, are associated with sensation-seeking, which spikes in adolescence. However, it also finds students who are likely to take potentially damaging risks are also more likely to take positive risks if they are engaged in them. These can “yield the unique benefit of offering youth opportunities to fulfill their desires for exciting and risky activities through behaviors that can be facilitated with adult support and societal resources.”
A version of this article appeared in the March 06, 2019 edition of Education Week as Social-Emotional Learning