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In their own words: adolescents strategies to prevent friends' risk-taking.

In: Journal of early adolescence. Vol. 34, no. 4 (May 2014), p. 539-561.

Authors: Lisa Buckley, Rebekah L. Chapman, Mary C. Sheehan, Bianca N. Reveruzzi

Injury is a significant public health problem among youth. A primary cause of adolescent injury is risk-taking behavior, including alcohol use, interpersonal violence and road-related risks. A novel approach to prevention is building on friendships by encouraging adolescents to intervene into their friends’ risk taking. Fifty-one early adolescents (13-14 years) and 44 older adolescents (16-17 years) from two Australian schools participated in focus groups, aiming to explore stories of intervening. Findings showed preference for talking to friends; however, participants also spoke to adults, monitored friends’ behavior and planned ahead. Close friendships, perceived harm, and self-efficacy influenced the likelihood of intervening. These findings have implications for the design of risk and injury prevention programs, by suggesting strategies to promote adolescents’ communicative ability for risk reduction. The findings also highlight the language and dialogue of adolescents and suggest that methods for increasing intervening behavior should focus on building social connectedness and increasing self-efficacy.