Social capital to prevent injury: Providing skills for adolescents to protect their friends from risk-taking
Buckley, Lisa D. & Sheehan, Mary C. (2008) Social capital to prevent injury: Providing skills for adolescents to protect their friends from risk-taking. In Population Health Congress, 6-9 July 2008, Brisbane. (Unpublished)
Adolescents suffer injury as a result of risk-taking. Peer influences on adolescent risk-taking are well-established however rarely are adolescent peers considered a protective resource to reduce engagement in risk-taking. The Skills for Preventing Injury in Youth (SPIY) Program was developed to try to reduce such risk-taking. A critical component of SPIY was its emphasis on building competencies to enable adolescents to protect their friends by intervening in their risk-taking.
The responses of 327 students who participated in SPIY were matched across a baseline and follow-up evaluation survey. A treatment-as-usual comparison group of 151 participants completed the same questionnaire including measures of risk-taking and protective behaviour. Focus groups and interviews were conducted with a sub-sample of the intervention students and their teachers to understand how the program was received. Particular attention was given to responses to the protective component.
The findings of this short-term follow-up indicated that individuals who participated in the SPIY program significantly reduced their self-reported risk-taking and teachers and students viewed the program favourably. There was no significant difference between the groups on measures of protective behaviour however intervention students identified new ways in which they could be protective and important considerations in implementing protective or intervening behaviour.
An intervention that built social capital (see Winter, 2000) in terms of peer protective behaviour demonstrated effectiveness in reducing adolescent risk-taking. Qualitative findings from the discussions indicated that students place great value in protecting their friends and such an approach shows promise as an intervention method.
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