King's College London

Research portal

Risky behaviour: a new framework for understanding why young people take risks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Lauren Graham, Lucy Jordan, Aisha Hutchinson, Nicole de Wet

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-339
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2018

King's Authors


Theories of youth risk taking range from the realist to the sociocultural. Much of this theorising, particularly in the field of epidemiology, has been strongly influenced by the Health Belief Framework. More recently, attention has shifted to understanding how young people perceive risk and what makes some of them resilient to risk taking. In this article we develop a framework that brings together diverse theoretical perspectives on youth risk taking. We draw on lessons from across the social science disciplines to inform a conceptual framework incorporating the broad context and internal processes of young people's decisions to take risks. Our Youth Risk Interpretation Framework (Y-RIF) has been developed from insights gained during an ethnographic study conducted in South Africa (Graham, Lauren, 2012. Understanding risk in the everyday identity-work of young people on the East Rand of Johannesburg. Doctoral Thesis. University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg.). We argue that our framework is useful, as it offers new ways of understanding why some young people take risks while others are more cautious. It could be used to inform youth behaviour surveillance research and interventions. However, it will need to be rigorously tested.

View graph of relations

© 2018 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454