Greenberg, Liberty Mutual, (617) 574-5874
Deborah Burke Henderson, SADD, 1-877-SADD-INC
RELEASE FOR DISTRIBUTION ON 11/29/04
RISK-TAKING CUTS ALCOHOL AND DRUG USE AMONG TEENS
study links adolescent risk profiles to
substance use, academic performance, and mental health
Teens shatter "Myth of Risk"
(November 29, 2004)
Teenagers who challenge themselves by taking positive risks,
such as joining an athletic team or volunteering to perform community
service, are more likely than those who dont to avoid alcohol
and other drug use, according to the Teens Today 2004 report
released today by SADD and Liberty Mutual Group. Teens "Risk
Profiles" (Risk Seekers and Risk Avoiders) are also linked to their
academic performance and overall emotional well-being.
"For years, parents and educators have steered young people toward
activities they believe will help prevent poor decision-making. Now
we have proof positive it works," said Stephen Wallace,
chairman and chief executive officer of the national SADD organization.
"Although teens are hard-wired to take risks, this research makes
clear that those risks dont have to be dangerous ones."
The Myth of Risk
While many adults have long linked risk-taking with negative behavior,
a majority of young people (52 percent) believes that risk-taking refers
to positive activities.
Significantly, the Teens Today 2004 report reveals that teens
who take positive risks (Risk Seekers) in their lives, their
schools, and their communities are 20 percent more likely than teens
who do not take positive risks (Risk Avoiders) to avoid alcohol
and other drugs and 42 percent more likely to avoid drinking because
of concerns about academic performance.
Seekers are also more likely than Risk Avoiders to:
themselves as responsible (89 percent vs. 79 percent), confident (82
percent vs. 75 percent), successful (88 percent vs. 73 percent), and
optimistic (76 percent vs. 63 percent)
they often feel happy (92 percent vs. 85 percent)
potential negative outcomes of destructive behaviors
- more likely to think they will get hurt (79 percent vs. 65 percent)
- more likely to think they will get caught (79 percent vs. 70
- more likely to think they will be held accountable (84 percent
vs. 75 percent)
teens are also less likely to cite mental states such as boredom and
Positive Risk-Taking by Teens
"This important new research suggests that we can help teens to
reframe risk-taking as potentially positive and redouble our efforts
in encouraging them to test their limits in constructive ways, as opposed
to destructive ways," stated Paul Condrin, Liberty Mutual executive
vice president, Personal Market.
The Teens Today 2004 research identified three broad categories
of positive risk-taking.
e.g. joining a club or group
e.g. asking someone on a date or sharing feelings with
e.g. rock climbing
e.g. taking an advanced placement course
e.g. trying out for a sports team
e.g. running for student council
e.g. helping the elderly or homeless
e.g. working with younger children
e.g. starting a business or charity
What Does This Mean for Families and Friends?
Both middle school (52 percent) and high school (42 percent) teens are
most likely to say their parents do the most to positively influence
them to challenge themselves, followed closely by their friends (29
percent in middle school and 36 percent in high school). These findings
are consistent with past Teens Today studies that have shown
that parents and peers have tremendous influence on teen behavior. For
example, teens who report regular, open communication with their parents
about important issues say they are more likely to try to live up to
their parents expectations and less likely to drink, use drugs,
or engage in early sexual behavior.
Parents and peers can help teens to take positive risks by:
inclusive social behavior and coaching peer-to-peer social skills;
and discussing emotional reactions to issues or events;
focus on academics and consideration of higher level courses;
club or activity membership and/or athletic participation; and
family and friends in community-service project(s).
Atlantic Research and Consulting, Inc. conducted focus groups and in-depth
interviews (IDIs) with teens on March 29th (Phoenix, Arizona)
and March 31st (Charlotte, North Carolina). Additional IDIs were
conducted on April 1st and 2nd (Tampa, Florida) and on April 8th and
26th in Boston. A total of 3,574 teens from 41 schools across the country
completed the quantitative survey during the months of May and June.
The data was weighted by census region to ensure that it was representative
of the US population.
The findings in the report are based on the completion of 3,574 interviews
and can be interpreted at a 95 percent confidence interval with a +/-
1.3 percent error margin. Analysis of survey subgroups is subject to
wider error margins. Percentages in the report may add to more or less
than 100 percent due to rounding error or occasions when multiple response
answers were accepted.
SADD and Liberty Mutual Group
SADD, Inc. (Students Against Destructive Decisions) sponsors
peer-to-peer education and prevention programs in middle schools and
high schools nationwide.
Liberty Mutual Group is one of the largest multi-line insurers
in the property and casualty industry. Offering a wide range of products
and services, including private passenger auto and homeowners insurance,
Liberty Mutual Group employs 37,000 people in more than 900 offices
throughout the world.
SADD and Liberty Mutual make available a number of important family
Contract for Life and Opening Lifesaving Lines brochure
Family Focus speakers program
Mutuals Avoiding Collisions: How To Survive The Teenage Driving
Years video and brochure
Mutual Family Communication Tips
more information or to receive materials, contact:
SADD, Inc., 1-877-SADD-INC, www.sadd.org
Liberty Mutual Group, 1-800-4-LIBERTY, www.libertymutualinsurance.com