Teens, Puberty, and Risk-Taking

Why do teens take risks when with their peers? The adolescent brain itself may be to blame.

Acting recklessly in front of peers stimulates pleasure centers in an adolescent’s brain, which further encourages this kind of risky behavior. Numerous studies have indicated that the mere presence of peers significantly increases an adolescent’s risk-taking propensities.  Brain-imaging technology illustrates how the pleasure centers in the brain of an adolescent light up when peers are watching them perform;  in fact, the more stimulation that the center receives, the more risks the teen will take.

Botvin LifeSkills Training (LST) is an evidence-based substance abuse prevention program proven to reduce the risks of alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, and violence by targeting the major social and psychological factors that promote risky behaviors. Adolescents learn skills that can help them successfully handle challenging situations and resist their hard-wired impulses to take unhealthy risks. Instead, they learn ways to adopt healthy alternatives to dangerous behavior.

One student from Vero Beach, Florida, who completed the LST program stated that the program helped her to realize that “the most important thing is to set a good example and show pride. It’s not always about being a part of the coolest clique or looking the best.”  She has since encouraged other teens to “set goals, stand up for what you believe in, have fun, be confident, and make the most of life,”  adding, “All of this has been shown to me in LifeSkills and has helped me become a better person, inside and out.”

To read more testimonials by both students and teachers, please visit: LifeSkills Training Testimonials

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