Cause of Risky Behavior in Teens Found to be Complex

Though therapists, doctors, and parents themselves may have their own theories about why teenagers are prone to exhibiting risky behaviors, consensus often rests with the idea that the executive cognitive function of the brain simply hasn’t fully developed in adolescents. Yet a new study based at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Annenburg Public Policy Center has found that no two explanations for teen behavior may be precisely the same. The work, which followed a group of adolescents over a period of four years and tracked behavioral choices and cognitive skills, found that there are many possible contributing factors when considering risky behavior, and as a result, generic treatments are likely to fail.

© Copyright 2010 by By John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Vivian


    May 7th, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    So basically they are no wiser after the study than they were before it. What a waste of time and money! Of course the kids all have different issues. They are individuals leading different lives. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ solution.

  • A.Richard


    May 8th, 2010 at 3:40 AM

    While many people dismiss such behavior as the immatured-ness or pure rush-of-blood among teens,it is much more than that,isn’t it?The same person will not be as aggressive and risk-taking a few years down the line…why this happens should be studied.

  • Hal


    May 8th, 2010 at 11:54 AM

    It has to have something to do with their brains and I am not sayingthat just to get a joke. Teens are not stupid, they are a lot smarter than people give them credit for although honestly we all know that they do not always provide us with a shining example of this fact. Most of them know the difference between right and wrong but there has to be something going on internally that causes them to rebel against the very things that they know would be the right thing to do. Hormones? Peer pressure? Who knows. The best thing that we can do is just to continue to try to live by example and hope that they choose to follow that.

  • Harvey


    May 8th, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    Teens have existed all through the ages,haven’t they? Then why is it that only the teenagers of the past few decades have been acting this,this weird way?

    That is because they want to be different from the others,they want to be ‘cool’. They seem to have lost all sanity and are just bent on doing things that surprise others… We had never heard of crazy teenagers coloring their hair with multiple vibrant colors and getting a hundred tattoos all over their bodies even a few decades ago!

  • ian


    May 9th, 2010 at 5:15 AM

    whatever the cause or reason is,it does always cause friction and problems between teens and other people,most often their hat is required is to find ways to smoothen the relationship and reduce the friction rather than to try and find out what this ‘complex’ reason is!

  • Sammy


    May 10th, 2010 at 2:54 AM

    Kids are gonna be kids no matter what we say to them. The less we worry about it the shorter the rebellion time will be. Let them be teenagers, do their thing, and it won’t be long before they relize how dumb they have been and they will come back around to a degree of normalcy. But the more you harp on them the longer it will take because they are just hard wired to want to do exactly what you do not want them to do. That’s reality.

  • DAVE


    May 10th, 2010 at 6:21 AM

    I don’t think the behavior that teens exhibit is anything actually ‘risky’.It is just natural!

    We get slow as we get old and because they are young and energetic and are at a stage where they are moving towards gaining their full strength,they behave that way.It may seem ‘risky’ to us because we are older than them but come on,even we did things that surprised our parents when we were teens,didn’t we? :)

  • Robin


    May 11th, 2010 at 4:49 AM

    They are always just searching for new and creative ways to push our buttons.

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