Risky Behaviors in Teenagers, a Global Issue: Evaluation of an Evidence-Based Intervention to Reduce Risky Behaviors with Implications for Practice, Education and Research
Sternas, Kathleen A.
Scharf, Mary Ann
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Purpose: Teenagers have high rates of risky behavior including drug/alcohol use, smoking, sexual activity which affect health. Risky behaviors are prevalent in the United States, England, Australia, Canada and among Newark teenagers. This presentation describes: global perspectives on risky behaviors in teenagers; an intervention to reduce risky behaviors; gender differences on outcomes. The intervention guided by Bandura's social learning theory focused on sexuality discussions, mentoring, health/fitness classes, cultural events, community service, and recognition. Methods: Pretest post-test design. Four intervention (n=230 girls;n=221 boys)/five comparison schools(n=134 girls; n=110 boys) participated. Intervention participants were randomly selected. Comparison participants were convenience sample. Intervention/comparison schools were matched on demographic variables. Instruments: AFL Core and Demographic Questionnaires. Pearson Chi Square, Mann Whitney U statistics and .05 level of significance were used. Results: Post-test III-Significantly more intervention than comparison participants reported: talking to parents about no sex(p=.005); saying no to wrong activities(p=.012); abstinence prevents STD's/pregnancy/health problems(< .001). Significantly more comparison than intervention participants reported: friends who drink(< .001), tried drugs(< .001); sex okay if dating long time(< .001). More intervention than comparison girls said no to wrong activities(p=.013); remained abstinent (< .001); abstinence prevents STD's/pregnancy(< .001). More comparison than intervention girls reported: friends who drink(< .001)/tried drugs(< .001). More intervention than comparison boys reported:abstinence prevents STD's/pregnancy(< .001). More comparison than intervention boys had friends who drink(p=.003)/tried drugs(p=.028). More intervention girls than boys said no to wrong activities (< .001); sex makes moral development harder(p=.002); abstinence prevents STDs/pregnancy(< .001). More intervention boys than girls smoked cigarettes(p=.034), had friends who drink (p=.042)/tried drugs (< .001). Conclusion: Intervention participants have more significant outcomes related to fewer risky behaviors than comparison participants. Girls had fewer risky behaviors than boys. Findings suggest the intervention reduces risky behaviors which help prevent teenage health problems. Findings have implications for development of interventions to reduce risky behaviors in teenagers and for practice, education and research.