Susan Matthews

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Patricia Bailey, Mary Hazzard, Eileen Williams

Degree Program

School of Nursing

Degree Type

Master of Science


Adolescents often make adult decisions regarding their lifestyle and behavior with little support from their family and community. In this study the researcher examined the difference in risk-taking behaviors between genders and the role that families and communities play in reducing risk-taking behaviors. In the study I further analyzed self-reports of numbers of development assets those students reporting participation in high-risk behaviors. Method: Data were obtained from a sample of convenience of (N=82) 12th grade students. Behaviors and attitudes were examined using the Search Institute’s Profiles of Student Life survey. Results: Chi square was used to test for significant differences in risk-taking behaviors between genders and levels of developmental assets. Males were more likely than females to participate in alcohol and substance use χ2 (1, N=82) = 63.95, p <0.05 and more likely to participate in violent risk-taking behaviors: physically hurt someone once or more in the last twelve months χ2 (1, N=82) = 22.73, p<0.05, used a weapon to get something χ2 (1, N=82) = 44.45, p<0.05, been in a group fight once or more in the last twelve months χ2 (1, N=82) = 29.33, p<0.05, carried a weapon for protection χ2 (1, N=82) = 23.78, p<0.05, and threatened physical harm to someone χ2 (1, N=82) = 46.2, p<0.05. Females were more likely to participate in sexual intercourse than males χ2 (1, N=82) = 214.08, p<0.05 and to have hit someone once or more in the last twelve months χ2 (1, N=82) = 11.53, p<0.05. In the area of risk-taking behaviors related to developmental assets, students who participated in the problem behaviors had fewer developmental assets than those not participating in the behavior. The exceptions to this were using a gun to get something from a person χ2 (1, N=82) = 72.4, p<0.05 and carrying a gun for protection χ2 (1, N=82) = 30.63, p<0.05. Conclusions: Findings from this study emphasize the need for community-based programs that enhance youth bonding with family and community. Furthermore, it reinforces the national goals aimed at reducing risk-taking behaviors such as alcohol and substance use, early sexual intercourse, and youth violence. Programs aimed at prevention and intervention that address the specific needs of males and females are recommended.


Experimental Analysis of Behavior | Medicine and Health Sciences | Nursing | Psychology | Public Health and Community Nursing | Social and Behavioral Sciences