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Making positive choices

MAKING POSITIVE CHOICES

Young people are generally more impulsive than adults due to their brain development, making them more likely to engage in risky behaviours. While some risk taking can be positive, others can have harmful consequences for young people's health, safety and wellbeing. This indicator looks at some of the negative risk taking that is common among young people.

The brain keeps developing up until about age 25, and the parts of the brain that help us control our impulses and understand long term consequences are the last to develop. This means young people are generally more impulsive than adults,, making them more likely to engage in risky behaviours.

Taking some risks is a normal part of development. Risk taking in lower-risk situations helps young people to develop independence, self-control and good judgement. Risk taking involves engaging activities even when there is the possibility of failure. Positive risk taking is where a success results in something new and positive (e.g. a new skill, friend, or attention/adoration) and the consequences of failure are relatively small (e.g. you don't get those things). Positive risk taking includes things like meeting new people, starting a new hobby or sport, or experimenting with fashion.

This indicator looks at some of the negative risk taking that is common among young people, aged 15-24, including alcohol, tobacco and drug use.

Negative risk taking is behaviours that are potentially harmful to individual's well-being, illegal, socially unacceptable, or may have serious repercussions.

It can involve behaviours like skipping school, breaking curfew, stealing, dangerous driving, having unprotected sex, sexting, and/or experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Some of these behaviours put young people and the people around them at risk of permanent and irreversible harm. In particular, exposure to alcohol and other drugs impacts more negatively on the developing brain.

This indicator relates to the 'involved and empowered' outcome.

How will we measure this?

  • This indicator draws on a range of data from the New Zealand Health Survey
  • Data from the survey is updated annually in November.

For more information

Last updated: 
Thursday, 23 July 2020