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Nowadays, adolescent problem behavior is conceptualized as 2 empirically derived syndromes: externalizing problems (including delinquency and aggression) and internalizing problems (including depression, anxiety, and withdrawal) (Achenbach, 1991a, 1991b). Little is known about the structure of internalizing problem behavior. Accordingly, the first aim of this study is to examine the structure of externalizing and internalizing problem behavior during adolescence. (Reitz, Dekovic, & Meijer, 2005, ¶ 2).
At the end of their study, Reitz, Dekovic, and Meijer (2005) recount that prior research primarily focused on externalizing problems, the structure of a limited range of problem behavior, and basically found support for a 1-factor structure. Their study, Reitz, Dekovic, and Meijer assert, extended previoius research as it explored externalizing, as well as internalizing problems, examining whether both types of behaviors belonged to one single factor of general problem behavior (1-factor model), or whether the two types behavior ought to be deemed two separate constructs (2-factor model), "or whether they can be conceptualized as 2 separate constructs belonging to 1 factor of general problem behavior (hierarchical structure model)" (Reitz, Dekovic, & Meijer, Discussion section, ¶ 1 ). As the third model fit the data best on both waves, Reitz, Dekovic, and Meijer note, this indicates externalizing and internalizing problem behavior constitute, in part, 2 unique constructs and, in part, manifestations of a more universal tendency of problem behavior; in turn, supporting the existence of a syndrome of problem behavior to be a meaningful second-order, albeit, not first-order factor during early adolescence. A Particularly, Serious Contemporary Concern
Adolescent violence constitutes a particularly, serious contemporary concern, meriting national attention, and includes domestic battery involving children and adolescents, teen-on-teen homicide, gang violence, and aggravated sexual assault. Ilyse Grinberg, Marva Dawkins, Marvin P. Dawkins, and Constance Fullilove (2005) examine violence, a major contemporary risk factor for adolescents in their study, "Adolescents at risk for violence: An initial validation of the life challenges questionnaire and risk assessment index." Grinberg, et al. utilize "a screening instrument and assessment scale (The Life Challenges Questionnaire-Teen Form -- LCQ-TF and The Risk Assessment Index-RAI) in identifying young people at risk for violence" (¶ 3).
During their study, Grinberg, et al. (2005) administered the instrument, a 120-item, self-report inventory developed by licensed clinical psychologists at the Center for Applied Psychology and Forensic Studies, to a total sample of 415 adolescents, age from 11 to 18, to compare the students and identify challenges these individuals faced during adolescence, Of the 415 participants, 105 were being held in a juvenile detention population, and 305 adolescents attended a large, private, Christian-based high school. The aim for the study by Grinberg, et al. ultimately lent support for the Life Challenges Questionnaire-Teen Form. Consequently, the study provide could serve as a valuable tool to assess risk for violence among adolescents (Ibid). This instrument covers four primary areas of adolescent risk:
1. The family,
2. peer relationships,
3. The school and community environments, and
4. personality and psychological factors. (Grinberg, et al., 2005 Discussion and Conclusion section, ¶ 1)
Causes of the Risk(s)
T.J. Wyatt and F. Peterson (2005) recommend in "Risky business: Exploring adolescent risk-taking," that one positive method for countering the adolescent's unhealthy risky behaviors is to encourage him/her to participate in healthy risky behaviors. For constructive risk taking, an essential tool for an adolescent, Wyatt and Peterson stress that the adolescent needs to be taught to:
1. Understand the concepts of risk, risk behavior, and risk taking.
2. Review different risk behaviors and rank order them according to importance.
3. Identify positive alternative risk behaviors to the risk behaviors portrayed.
4. Engage in risk-assessment thinking skills. (Wyatt & Peterson, 2005, Lesson Objectives section)
Popular theories addressing the individual's struggle with substances range from psychoanalytic, to12-step-oriented approaches, to behavioral/cognitive -- behavioral, and include family systems. One primary popular theory regarding the development and maintenance of substance abuse, cognitive-behavioral, combines learning theory. Traditionally, cognitive-behavioral theorists assert that substance abuse "originates in an interaction between the person and his or her environment" (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006, ¶ 4). In regard to adolescents, according to the cognitive-behavioral theory, when the adolescent faces a stressful situation, he/she may manage the situation by utilizing relevant coping skills. Although the majority of adolescents develop and possess a broad range of healthy coping skills, such as talking about their problems and destressing, some adolescents may only possess a limited set of coping behaviors, with some of these coping mechanisms unhealthy, including misusing drugs to try to manage the stressful situation. Cognitive-behavioral therapists generally work with these adolescents to increase their coping skills in order to successfully manage difficult situations (Burrow-Sanchez, 2006, ¶ 4).
Schneider (2008) reports that Dr. Glenn Flores, professor of pediatrics and public health at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, also an expert on health disparities among adolescents, recommends that a family with an adolescent regularly eat dinner together as a family. This practice posses the potential to serve as a powerful intervention to help the adolescent detour from at risk behaviors. "Children who have dinner with their families 5-7 times a week are at less risk for substance abuse and high stress, he [Flores ]said, than are children who rarely have family dinners" (Schneider, ¶ 16). According to Flores, schools creating and sponsoring more affordable after-school programs also serve as positive deterrents to at risk behaviors.
The study "Mechanisms underlying heightened risk taking in adolescents as compared with adults," which Suzanne H. Mitchell, Christiane Schoel, and Alexander A. Stevens (2008) completed, utilized a modified version of the BART (the Two Balloon Inflation Task [2BIT]) to distinguish similarities/differences regarding risk behavior adolescents and adults take. "Sixteen adolescents (12 female), 14-17 years of age, and 16 adults (10 female), 35-55 years of age, were recruited via word of mouth and printed advertisements" (Mitchell, Schoel, & Stevens, Participants section, ¶ 1). The participants, who completed several questionnaires, along with a computer task, were debriefed and compensated for their time. Mitchell, Schoel, and Stevens (2005) determined that the adolescent participants, in the absence of any social influence, displayed higher risk-taking tendencies than the adults demonstrated.
Actions to Counter/Reduce the Risk(s)
Whether in general, whatever the context in regard to youth, particularly, albeit relating to depression, Yu, et al. (2006) assert, risk prevention interventions need to not only include parents, but also youth. Interventions should directly address communication, along with behavioral monitoring. "Such efforts may be especially important among pre-early adolescents and among youth at the beginning of their risk trajectories both because of the relatively enhanced position of parents with respect to youth behavior during this developmental phase, and because once a youth has begun engaging in risk behaviors breaking the behavioral patterns may require more intensive intervention" (Yu, et al. Implications of the Findings section). Reducing adolescent risk, as well as prevention strategies, according to Yu, et al., needs to particularly note past histories of risky behavior.
Risk, a normal part of life, Wyatt and Peterson ( 2005) explain, may constitute any action where the opportunity presents itself for one to succeed, or exist where the prospect surfaces for one to fail. Risk taking may be considered "the participation in potentially health-compromising activities with little understanding of, or in spite of an understanding of, the potential negative consequences" (Wyatt & Peterson, ¶ 2). Risk taking by at risk adolescents in negative behaviors, albeit, is volitional as its outcome, although not certain, is usually negative. Constructive risk taking in physical, social, emotional, psychological, and financial areas, however, proves essential for positive growth and maturation for the adolescent.
Constructive risk taking serves as an essential tool for an adolescent to grow and mature as It enables him/her to discover and establish his/her identity. The contemporary challenge, the literature reveals, is to channel adolescent h risk taking into positive, health-enhancing experiences, while simultaneously providing him/her with realistic alternative options to counter destructive, at risk behavior (Wyatt & Peterson, 2005).
Risk taking becomes destructive when the risks prove dangerous. Positive risks, on the other hand, better referred to as challenges, can counter negative risks, preventing their occurance or turning them to a more health-enhancing direction. Adolescents need the adult's guidance and support to help them better seize opportunities to explore their values and attitudes. In turn, they will learn how to best respond in regardi to the risk-taking activities they will likely face each day. Adults need to help at risk adolescents understand risk taking; to help them realize that it is vital to critically assess risks. Wyatt & Peterson (2005) recomment that in regard to various risk-taking activities, adolescents be taught the value of asking themselves the following, as well as a number of reasonable, relevant questions:
What are the potential negative risks?
What are the potential benefits?
Do the benefits outweigh the dangers?
Does this activity put others or me in danger?
Is there a safe and enjoyable way to engage in this activity? (Wyatt & Peterson, 2005, ¶ 2)
During adolescence, the challenges young people regularly…[continue]
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