Adolescents as people, and adolecence as a a stage of development, are often subject to a range of assumptions and myths. How often has the term "typical adolescent" been used as a general description of a young person: their apprearance, their behaviour and their interests? More often such a term has negative connotations and is an attempt to explain a difficulty or challenge that the young person presents to parents, carers, teachers, and maybe even social workers!
In working with young people there are many contexts in which risk is an important consideration. A combination of factors in a young person’s system (their family, peer group, school or community) can make it more likely they will be exposed to risks or engage in risk-taking activities. Thus ‘risky’ behaviours may be precipitated by risk factors such as running away; possiblye the taking of one risk to escape another (such as maltreatment at home).
Risky and impulsive behaviour are a normal part of the teenage experience. With support, most young people navigate these challenges and emerge as healthily functioning adults. However, the interaction of individual, family and environmental factors can increase a young person’s vulnerability to harm in terms of their mental and physical health and well being. Sometimes the harm caused can be significant. The challenge for services is to identify the most promising means of engaging with young people in order to divert them from behaviours that place them at risk for harm.