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Understanding Adolescent Reckless Behavior: Factors and Impact

Jul 24, 2023 | 0 comments

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Jul 24, 2023 | Essays | 0 comments


In this chapter, this research reviews discussions of adolescent reckless behaviour extending from puberty to early 20’s. Adolescent is the bridge between adulthood and childhood, when an individual is attaining further training and education for fulfilling adult roles in the society. This chapter, therefore, argues the varieties of reckless behaviour, presents problems stemming from reckless behaviour and provides a theoretical analysis in relationship with adolescent reckless behaviour.


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Introduction and Purpose

Many teenagers in their adolescent stage often push the boundaries of tolerable behaviour. Some take to extremes, engaging in reckless behaviour such as drug abuse. Although it is comparative for parents to support and show love to their teens, they should also incorporate consequences and dangers of reckless behaviour in their parental roles. Shader, (2004) writes that Adolescence bears a heightened reckless potential in comparison to other periods of development in every time and every culture. The mechanisms taken by theses proclivity varies with the characteristics of particular culture and time. Scholars have studied various forms of reckless behaviour; however, limited attempts have been adopted to determine the underlying factors to all reckless behaviour variation and its prevalence only among the adolescence.

Previous studies have employed various terms in an attempt to describe reckless behaviour. Thus, numerous conclusions have asserted that reckless behaviour mentions minor criminal activities, drug abuse, irresponsible sexual behaviour and alcohol consumption. The ideal descriptive term is reckless behaviour since it bears stronger connotations of negative consequences potentiality. These consequences highlight serious personal injuries, legal system arrest and conviction, unwanted pregnancies and death in extreme circumstances. Furthermore, taking of risks common with adolescent groups have also been referred to as reckless behaviour. These mentions gambling judgments and economic calculations whereby, focus by the adolescent group is based on loss or gain of monetary benefits.

Besides, behaviors such as willingness to volunteer and truancy observed in psychological experiments, in which the worst behaviour is not profound also describes reckless behavior. Recklessness can also be termed as seeking thrill, since numerous activities may be thrilling, however accepted in the society but has potential extreme consequences, for example, rafting and parachute jumping. However, the danger in these circumstances is recognized but minimized with deliberation. Slight difference has been argued because, with reckless behaviour, and foreseeable risks are not taken into consideration (Steinberg, 2007). In a nutshell, the term reckless behaviour considerably overlaps, and the considerations in this paper intend to apply to reckless behaviour.

According to Shader, (2004) it is unclear the number of adolescents affected by mental or physical health disability. However, research evidence provides that indigenous adolescent groups are likely to suffer of exclusion, discrimination and stigmatization similar to those underlying younger children. Furthermore, the society segregates from the indigenous adolescents as objects of charity and passive victims. Therefore, this population suffers shame and guilt and becomes less sustainable in the society.  Studies on health behaviour models suggest that stigmatization and discriminations guide decisions to engage in reckless behaviour among indigenous adolescents.  Consistent with other behaviour models, health cognition leads to reckless behaviours.

Theoretical Rationale

Scholars have presented well-articulated theory to explain reckless behaviour among the adolescent groups. The Jessor and Jessor’s model incorporated numerous factors. The theory is based on the developmental basis that reinstates that adolescent groups engage in reckless behaviour more than any other life stage groups. Some behaviors in the society such as sexual activities and alcohol consumption are socially legal for adults. However, they are considered unhealthy for adolescents. As established by Price & Dalgleish, (2013) the adolescent engages in illicit behaviour because it signifies the status of adult they wish to arrive at. The theory hits that the reckless behaviour ceases after adolescence since it becomes unnecessary in declaration of adulthood.

The theory that was tested using a longitudinal study scale of college and high school students studied numerous social, environmental and personality variables in association with five types of irresponsible behaviour. These were sexual activity, problem drinking, use of marijuana, drug use and general deviance such as stealing and vandalism. According to the study, these activities were considered as a syndrome rather than isolation. Besides, parental ideology and control were also presented in the model that is significant in recognizing broad and narrow socialization ideas (Price & Dalgleish, 2013). The model argues that the desire t attain an adult status is the developmental role played by the problem initiation of adolescence reckless behaviour; however, this contradicts the inputs of developmental theory. A case could make sense when the adolescents engage in alcohol consumption and sexual activity since they are approved for adults but prescribed for adolescents. Thus, the desire to attain them signifies their wish to attain adulthood. However, stealing, lying and vandalism that also form part of the syndrome of reckless behaviour are socially unacceptable for adults.

Furthermore, Shader, (2004) observes that the psychological theories pioneered by Sigmund Freud recognize childhood as the most formative period in the development of human. Sigmund believed that personality dynamics widely depends on the superego, sexual instinct ID and the ego. Central to the theory, it assumes that human beings possess powerful drives that must be satisfied. Sigmund believed that human beings are part of biological creatures, thus has the drive to serve and satisfy their motives (Wilkinson, 2006). Contrastingly, the society dictates that most f these drives are undesirable and must be controlled. Also, he asserts that individuals are unaware that the biological instincts are the forces driving behaviours (Teese, 2008). In a developmental analysis, Anna Freud added that adolescence signified an important life period of turbulence due to the sexual conflicts resulting from puberty. However, critiques argue that this theory leans too much on sexuality and mind unconsciousness which is just one of the reckless behaviours.

Research Methods

The data for the study was concluded from the information provided in the questionnaires that sampled youths in various social settings such as school, family, peers and community. In addition to dispersion and central tendency measure, the research assessed variability and normality in data. Furthermore, correlational analysis of multiple variables was conducted to conclude on the important associations and current patterns based on the model of the theoretical framework. The research tested a structural model of equation to assess the degree of how the theoretical framework fits the data.

Significance of the Study

Today, the changing society lacks guidance to adolescent that are important for them in per suing their goals and develop common sense of purpose. Considering that they believe in their ability to achieve goals, it is comparative to analyze the risks associated with adolescent reckless behaviours. The study increases the likelihood of efficacy intervention development that deters reckless behaviour participation and promotes beneficial development. The interventions necessary are traditional disciplinary interventions and multidimensional adolescent development issues. It has been affirmed that the chasm between research, theory and practice actuality be adopted. Therefore, this research attempts to close down the gap by incorporating and considering current empirical trends of adolescent reckless behaviours and the intervention approaches. Although more research is needed, the study aims to acts a step towards the end, particularly, on ascertaining the relationships supporting viable framework, thus providing a platform for the development of additional efficacious interventions.

Problem Statement

All adolescents in every social and economic circumstance, needs a certain amount of assistance, discipline, instruction, caring and support as they transcend through adolescence to adulthood. The help stems from various stakeholders such as good schools, safe and supportive neighborhoods, sold families and the culture surrounding that emphasize respectful relationships and constructive lives.

Statement of purpose

Consistent with science of development, empirical and theoretical works regarding extant research on the social problem that has emerged a highly multivariate, multidisciplinary, process focused, person-centered and contextually situated. This study focuses on the adolescent problem behaviour characteristics relating to the individual, school, family and peer groups to analyze the relationships associated with reckless behaviors among adolescents. The dynamics of reckless behaviour of adolescents is discussed throughout the literature which integrates theoretical models, and reckless behaviour observed in adolescent groups. In a nutshell, the study examines adolescent associates with reported risk behaviours and the degree to which contextual factors influence risk behaviours. Therefore, this research seeks to take a snapshot of the population and determine if adolescents, many of whom identify as Indigenous, are participating in behaviour that may be considered dangerous.

Research Question

Does Jessor’s theory explain the relationship between reckless behaviour and adolescent risks controlling the effects of sexual activities and drug abuse?

Study Limitations

The cross-sectional studies are less expensive, less likely to manifest participant attrition. However, the use of data from cross-sectional studies limits the interpretation of presumptions of subjects and directional influences interpretation because of the current variable measurements. Ideally, this prevents such effects fro being determined and molded. The generality of the study was compromised since the study considered a section of subjects in a single environment which are likely to differ from another other adolescent cohorts from another community. Teese, (2008) highlighted that issues of assessment are likely to be problematic in study research on reckless adolescent behaviours. The self-report of the adolescents may not be necessarily biased due to the tendency of their motivation to underrate or exaggerate their drug use and sexual activities. However, the computer-aided study techniques of interview are argued to produce inaccurate responses. Despite the limitations observable in this study, the results are not negated and the support the relationships discussed and tested with the variables of reckless adolescent behaviour.


Introduction and Purpose

The widespread reckless behaviour among the adolescent groups is troubling because the behaviours can have long-term consequences on their development, including underemployment, long-term substance abuse, school dropouts unplanned parenthood and sexually transmitted infections. Despite the number of youths navigating the adolescent stage with negative reckless behaviour consequences, the problem has emerged chronic to others, thus elevating the likelihood of multiple adversities such as life expectancy, successful transition from to adulthood, physical health and psychological adjustment.

Therefore, this chapter provides illustrative research review based on the covariance of reckless behaviours in adolescents. The chapter highlights extant literature on reckless behaviours, examine the factors influencing multiple types of reckless behaviour and provide specific development variation. The data presented suggest that prevention policies and programs focused on risk reduction for recess behaviours should limit the multiple types of reckless behaviours of adolescent.

Problem statement

All adolescents in every social and economic circumstance, needs a certain amount of assistance, discipline, instruction, caring and support as they transcend through adolescence to adulthood. The help stems from various stakeholders such as good schools, safe and supportive neighborhoods, sold families and the culture surrounding that emphasize respectful relationships and constructive lives.

Literature Synthesis

The adolescent involvement in multiple reckless behaviours has increased throughout the world. However, the course and initiation f the reckless behaviours vary across the questioned behaviour. Fro example, averagely, delinquent behaviour involvement increases in the early stages of adolescent, peaks at 17 and rapid decline is observed thereafter (Lipsey & Derzon, 1998). Ideally, substance use sharply elevates through adolescence and arrive peak level amid 18 and 24. For example, in the United States, first sexual intercourse is averagely estimated at 16 years for females and 17 years for males. This puts additional questions on the problem behaviour co-variation changes over the adolescence time.

It is documented that few studies examined the increased recklessness in adolescence. Essentially, reckless behaviour is deemed to be weak in late childhood and increases in strength throughout adolescence. A longitudinal study of the adolescence of various societies, Kauffman, Bradbury & Owings, (1992) examined the deviant behaviour structural nature, marijuana use, alcohol consumption, and trouble at school; illicit drug use among 11 – 12 ages. The research provided evidence that numerous reckless behaviour- delinquency, school troubles and substance use could not be accounted for using the first order factor. By the eighth grade, however, this sample poly-drug use, delinquency, school problems and sexual activities were highly correlated. In a parallel exploration, Keeping, (1989) and colleagues examined poor dieting, smoking and low patterns of physical activity.

According to, Kauffman, Bradbury & Owings, (1992)the believable results, clustering of these intolerable behaviours strengthened as the youth aged from grade 8 to 12 years. Furthermore, it is unclear how reckless behaviour clusters as the youths transit out of adolescence. However, some studies suggest that the reckless behaviour may become less correlated and heterogeneous ad the adolescent groups’ transit to adulthood. Contrastingly, other studies note that reckless behaviour syndrome remains intact into adulthood (Lau & Yuen, 2013).

Likewise, different indices of reckless behaviour were studied in a longitudinal exploration that examined covariance at ages of four and from early adolescence to adulthood. According to the study results, academic orientation, drug use and social nonconformity were studied in early adolescent. Besides, sexual involvement, drug use, social non-conformity, academic orientation and criminal activities were studied in late adolescent. The results provided that in early adolescence the most commonly defined factor is social non-conformity. However, early adulthood and late adolescence, sexual involvement and drug use were the strongly related reckless behaviour factors. Finally, drug use was the strongly related factor of reckless behaviour in adulthood, then social non-conformity, criminal behaviour and number of sexual partners. Notably, in the stages of late adolescence, all the studied reckless behaviour had nearly equal contribution to general irresponsible behaviour.

The probable reason for the variation in development co-variation reckless behaviour in adolescence may be due to reckless behaviour sequencing and pattern of development. The cascade model of development provides one perspective on reckless behaviour. According to the model, reckless behaviours in one domain are likely to cascade into other types of problems in a bidirectional association. To illustrate, conduct reckless behaviours in adulthood is a prediction of adolescence academic problems, that later externalizes adolescence behaviour (Doolan, Najman, Mills, Cherney, Strathearn, 2012). Conclusively, problems of academics can double up as contributor and consequence of externalizing glitches.

As explained by Jessor’s theory of reckless behaviour, the primary cause of externalizing problems in the adolescent stage is the unconventionality. Ideally, it takes place in the personality of youths and social environment in the adolescent stage. The theory believes that unconventional individuals are, particularly, tolerant to deviance. And that they are less associated to religious and educational institutions thus tends to be liberal in their views. Unconventional environment is defined as those which a big number of persons share similar attitudes; thus, unconventional individuals living in an unconventional environment are highly associated with a variety of reckless behaviours (Lipsey & Derzon, 1998). Jessor’s hints that five sources or domains were vital in explaining adolescent reckless behaviour, namely perceived environment, personality, social environment, genetics/biology and other behaviours.

Common vs. Specific Risk Factors

This section examines key reckless behaviour contributors during adolescence across family, peer groups, community and school.

Domains of Risk

The inability to control impulses as a result of immaturity development is one of the factors that explain the risk taking in adolescent groups. Therefore, reckless behaviours are products of deficit in the ability of impulse control. According to Fletcher, (2011) the association underlying antisocial behaviour, substance dependence and conduct disorder is genetically mediated along the externalizing spectrum. Additionally, vulnerability of traits to disinhibition manifested as poor control of impulse. The framework hints that individuals with inadequate ability to control their impulses are highly expected to engage in reckless behaviour.

Peer Risk

Pearl, (1972) explains that, particularly, peer group is a common salient social context in adolescence. The significance of adolescence peer groups enhances multiple processes, including duration individuals spend with peers. The stated susceptibility and significance of peer relationships provides that deviant peers are likely to commit reckless behaviours than youths without deviant peers. However, indigenous adolescents often suffer from shame and guilt, thus are less likely to involve in peer risks. Studies show that adolescents who are overprotected by their family peers are likely to follow the course of the family members.

Familial Risk

The characteristics of the family may influence reckless behaviour in adolescence. Scholars argue that context of early family whereby reckless-behaving youths are raised breeds reckless behaviour as a response to adapt to a hostile environment (Ellis, Shirtcliff, Boyce, Deardorff & Essex, 2011). Inadequate parental and low maternal involvement expectations are associated with the use of drugs, sexual debut and delinquency. Essentially, adolescents with permissive parents exhibit elevated levels of reckless behave our. Moreover, youths whose parent condones violent behaviour, drug use, and smocking are most likely to grow such behaviours. In a nutshell, the history of family strongly predicts subsequent reckless behaviour during adolescence and some of the risks may be genetically instigated.

School Risk

Youths spend considerable time in school settings and their performance and perception in school provides significant implications of reckless behaviour. Edmonds, (1979) hints that poor performance in school predicts drug use early sexual activity and delinquent behavior. As argued, the relationship between school and behaviour is complex. Notably, youths with problems of conduct are likely to perform poorly at school. That may lead to reckless behaviour. Contrastingly, attachment and success in school are related to reducing involvement in reckless behaviour, providing that strong bonds with school may protect against various behavioural characteristics. Besides, indigenous adolescents are less likely to be in school that may lead to long-term poverty. Ideally, the indigenous adolescents suffer from guilt and shame and are more likely to drop out of school. As elaborated by Edmonds, (1979) less association with educational institutions contributes to reckless behaviour such as drug use and irresponsible sexual behaviour.

Community Risk

The low socio-economic and disorganization of the neighborhoods in the community are related to multiple types of reckless behaviour. Low socioeconomic indicator such as poor housing, poverty and overcrowding are related to problems of drug use, delinquency and risky sexual behaviour. However, no clear research has provided clear relationship between disadvantaged socioeconomic status and reckless behaviour. Subsequently, disorganized neighborhoods associated with dense population, physical deterioration and residential mobility exposes adolescent groups to high rights of illegal drug trafficking and high crime rates (Matthews, 2000). Furthermore, Mathews explains that models of health behaviour provide that psychological problems expose indigenous adolescents into violence, sexual activities and drug use. This is due to discrimination and stigmatization in the society which influences their perceptions and vulnerability. Thus, they are likely to engage in problem behaviour as predicted by their health cognition.

Relation among Developmental Variation, Risk Domain and Cumulative Risk

The underlying mechanisms of reckless behaviour are complex. Family environment and genetics seeks to provide etiology explanations of reckless behaviour unquestionably oversimplify the multiple pathways and complexity of adolescent behaviour. Risk factors affect behaviour problem in multiple ways. First for instance, positive perceptions on sexual activities may precede and affect sexual debut directly. Likewise, deviant peers association have a direct impact on one’s behaviour. Furthermore, risk factors indirectly impact reckless behaviour. For example, disorganization of the community provides transition difficulties for families of their pro-social values to offspring (Fagan, 2004). Thus, residing in neighborhoods with disorganization results to poor management of families which is a precursor for reckless adolescent behaviour.

Summary and Conclusion

The greatest potential health complications of adolescent results from behaviours they willingly engage such as delinquency, reckless driving, risky sexual behaviour and substance use. The literature discussed provides evidence of convey of these reckless behaviours during adolescence. Consequently, there is strong evidence associating multiple risk factors to reckless behaviour. Risk factors, such as disadvantaged socioeconomic status may results to reckless behaviours, however, not all. Unfortunately, practice and research has treated adolescent reckless behaviours as independent and separate, with minimal consideration of their interconnections. Somewhat, this surprises provided the greater levels across behaviour problem and provided evidence mentioning indicators of multiple risks of reckless behaviours. Perhaps, the absolute danger is that problem behavior research is segregated into various domains. Thus, this risks the lack of attention to reckless behavior interrelationships and risk factors. Therefore, urgent intervention is needed to foster research collaborations to focus on various domains of reckless behaviour and promote positive adolescent development.

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