“Prevention is better than Cure”; “Better safe than Sorry”… We all have heard of multiple sayings commonly advised by our parents, elders and well-wishers, and at times even unsolicited, warning us to take precautions. However, many a times such advise does tend to fall on deaf ears, especially when individuals tend to have what is called an Optimism Bias. This can be easily illustrated in situations when on hearing about an accident or a mishap, one’s immediate response tends to disregard the possibility of ourselves to be caught in a similar situation!
What Behaviours can be Risky?
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.
Often, the disagreement is not on whether a particular risk is worth taking or not. Instead, deciding whether a particular behaviour has a potential risk attached to it becomes questionable. Therefore, it is important to be able to define the threshold beyond which a specific behaviour is likely to be called potentially risky. It is not only thrilling adventure sports which qualify as being risky by nature. Any behaviour which has a potentially adverse consequence can be termed as risky, and many of our common actions could also be included within this category. For example, reckless driving, sharing personal information or images through various social media platforms, bullying, watching adult films or pirated films, etc.
Link between Teenage and Risks
Adolescence as a developmental phase is characterized by the need to explore and experiment. As the teenagers are striving towards independence, they tend to have higher chances of indulging in risk-taking behaviours, often to the grief of their parents. Therefore, it is important for us to be aware of such a developmental shift in their attitudes and to be willing to satisfy their curiosity, in order to prevent any significant risk to their physical as well as psychological well-being.
This is the developmental period during which the adolescents tend to give greater emphasis to their peer groups than almost all other agencies of social influence. There is no amount of penalization or prohibition that can defy such tendencies. Instead, it is important to accept and also be prepared for such a transition, and as parents be willing to adopt a participative approach, have an open communication pattern, and also set limits without being an authoritative figure.
Tips for Preventing Risk-Taking Behaviours
It is our societal responsibility to work towards creating a safer future for the youth, while also empowering them with the skills and abilities to be able to make the right decision in light of their own future and well-being. Some of the points which could be recommended, especially for the youth of the country, include:
· Following a multi-component model for awareness building through preventive workshops with parents, teachers, staff, and students.
· Enhancing social and interpersonal skills of children and adolescents both at school as well as at home.
· Building and strengthening teacher-student or parent-child rapport.
· Enhancing self-esteem of children and adolescents.
· Assertiveness skills training could be encouraged in order to help youngsters fight peer pressure.
· Ensuring professional psychological intervention and support.