Risk Behaviour in Adolescence
Risk Behaviour in Adolescence
5 Discussion and perspectives (S. 91-92)
The single studies summarised here support and extend the current theoretical and empirical knowledge on risk behaviour in adolescence. The analysis is among the first to systematically examine adolescent risk behaviour from a comparative perspective over time and across countries using the same data. The study further follows a multidimensional model and looks at determinants as well as consequences of risk behaviour. Its methodological strengths lie in the use of a large representative dataset and the availability of various widely used and internationally tested measures. This final chapter will provide a short summary of the study's main findings and elaborate on their implications for future research and practice.
5.1 Summary of the results
First, the results indicate that all risk behaviours showed remarkable patterns in terms of age and gender. Health-compromising behaviours such as tobacco and alcohol use increase with increasing age, while engagement in positive behaviours declines with age. Moreover, boys and girls showed different patterns of risk behaviour.
The whole range of risk behaviour constitutes different areas of risk. In general, boys showed more externalising and evasive forms of risk behaviour (such as bullying or drunkenness) while girls showed more internalising forms (e.g. skipping breakfast). These age- and gender-specific findings support existing regional studies with representative data from Germany using based on comparable age groups and measures (e.g. Appel & Hahn, 2001, Hüttner et al. 1997, 1998, Roth 2002, Raithel 2003a/b).
They also support recent findings from the German Health Interview and Examination Survey for Childern and Adolescents (KiGGS) (Lampert & Thamm 2007, Lampert et al. 2007). So far, comparable data on risk behaviour across countries, including Germany, has been rare. The results based on international HBSC data showed that there are large differences in the diffusion of risk behaviours between countries. Compared to other countries, Germany performs rather badly in respect to many risk behaviours.
One-third of 15-year old German students smoked weekly – as many as in no other European or North American country. Germany is also among the five countries that showed the highest regular alcohol use and the highest rates of bullying. Furthermore, the international comparison showed there was a relatively low level of physical activity. Despite the large differences in prevalence across countries, the findings showed that age and gender patterns are largely universal across countries. Age-related trends in risk behaviour were found in almost all HBSC countries and are similar for a variety of different types of behaviour.
It appears that these shifts are a universal phenomenon and demonstrate just how common it is for young people to engage in such behaviours. The general gender patterns in risk behaviour were also supported by international HBSC data. In almost all HBSC countries boys show higher prevalences of externalising and/or evasive forms of inappropriate coping behaviour. Interestingly, gender differences in tobacco smoking were generally lower than for other substance use behaviours. In some countries, mostly western European countries, girls also reported higher rates of smoking than boys. On the other hand, girls were more likely to report that they frequently consume healthy food and are less likely to consume unhealthy food (see also Currie et al. 2008a).
However, in all countries they were more likely to skip breakfast and were physically less active. These findings illustrate that there are different issues of concern for girls and boys. The trend data from Northrhine-Westphalia suggested that these age and gender patterns also