Youths are at a very vulnerable stage of their lives. How to identify risky behaviours in youths is a very important skill that those involved in mentoring youths must have. Because youths are at a stage of their lives when they start identifying with their own emotions, their aspirations and their true self, they are vulnerable to risky behaviours.
What are some of these risky behaviours? They include drug consumption and trafficking, truancy, drinking, armed robbery, and suicide, among other more minor crimes. Unfortunately, often times, even those who are closest to the youths who exhibit these risky behaviours are not even aware that they have a tendency towards them. Neither do they see the warning signs.
Why do teens turn to these risky behaviours? Reasons can include peer pressure, an unhappy family background, defiance, rebellion towards authority, and a lack of self identity. Pent up emotions and lack of a healthy outlet for these often lead to impulsive acts that youths live to regret. Often, however, if these risky behaviours were identified in their early stages, and the youths given proper follow-up, such acts can be avoided.
These signs normally precedes risky behaviours. Mentors will do well to take note of them and watch out for them in their charges, espcially when they come from at risk families. At risk families are those where the parents have track records of crime or substance abuse, financial or domestic problems. When youths come from such families, they will usually carry with them baggages such as unhappiness, and perhaps regret for having been born into such unhappy and unfortunate homes.
A sudden change in behaviour can signal that something is not usual in the youths’ life. They may become very quiet when they are normally noisy and outgoing. They may become easily irate and even lose their temper when they are usually quiet and unshakable. Something is definitely amiss. Check it out with them, even if they may not want to speak their mind initially.
Physical changes may also signify risky behaviours. Cloudy eyes with a gazed look usually signal substance abuse, especially when the youth suddenly becomes easily irritable and experiences cramps and pains, seizures and fatigue. While youths may not have the financially means to splurge on party pills or hard core drugs, they may abuse cheaper items such as carpenter’s glue. Inhalant abuse may lead to sudden death during running, shouting and other activities that requires the lungs to work beyond at rest functions.
A shift in friendships may also become a call for concern especially when good and respectable friends are dumped for others with dubious characters. This shift is common in female youths who seek male attention. She will tend to start spending more and more time with her new boyfriend and his friends, and become missing from her own circle of friends. Ultimately, her other aspects of life will be influenced, including absorbing undesirable habits.
Youths are also vulnerable to the comments made by others. While seeking their own identity, they are also afraid to let go of the comfort friends bring about, usually choosing to go with the crowd than make their own stand. As such, they may begin to quote opinions of their idolized friends more than their own. It is not unusual that such opinions often turn into actions.
While it is easy to identify risky behaviours in many youths, it is far more difficult to do so in youths who are by nature introverted and well-behaved. Often, it is too late to save them, and their problems will only surface when their death notes are found after their mangled bodies are discovered at the foot of tall buildings or their decomposed bodies are raked in from water bodies.
In order to identify risky behaviours in youths, it is pertinent that mentors develop a healthy relationship with their charges. It is in a careful and more than platonic relationship that mentor are able to surface such nuances in the life of their charges. Early detection can prevent undesirable outcomes that nobody may find imaginable in some youths. The sooner the risky behaviours are uncovered, the sooner the lives of these youths return to normalcy.