The Relationship Between Youth Risk-Taking Behaviour and Activity Engagement
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Youth have been found to engage in various risk-taking behaviours at higher rates than any other age group. However, there is a lack of research on the division between adaptive and maladaptive risk behaviours among adolescents and emerging adults. Adaptive risk-taking behaviours may present youth with ways to successfully partake in the risk behaviours that they are naturally inclined to engage in. The relationship between activity engagement and positive youth development has been extensively studied and cited as a way to expose youth to positive experiences and promote successful development. However, the relationship between activity engagement and risk behaviours among youth has yetto be studied in depth. This study investigated the potential relationship between various adaptive and maladaptive risk behaviours and activity engagement among youth, through an indirect link through five mediator variables. These potential mediators represented the three systems in Jessor's Problem Behaviour Theory. Participants included 276 youth (M = 19.06 years, SD = 1.60, 89.1 % female) from Brock University. Results revealed that activity engagement significantly predicted greater adaptive social risk behaviours among youth. However, there was no mediating effect through the problem behaviour systems. Correlations revealed that being male was associated with more maladaptive risk behaviours and fewer adaptive risk behaviours than females. Additionally, behavioural engagement specifically related to less maladaptive physical health risks and psychological engagement related to greater adaptive social risks. Overall, these findings suggest that activity engagement may be differentially related to the various types of risk-taking and gender associations may exist between the various types and dimensions of risk behaviours, but future work is needed to understand the variables that may explain such relationships.