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Culture & Risk Taking in Adolescents' Behaviors

Christopherson, Toni Michelle EdD, RN; Jordan-Marsh, Maryalice PhD, RN, FAAN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: March-April 2004 - Volume 29 - Issue 2 - p 100-105
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Adolescents constitute the only segment of the population in the United States that has not seen a decrease in its mortality and morbidity over the last 4 decades. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified six risk-taking behaviors that place adolescents at risk: unintentional injuries and violence, tobacco use, alcohol and other drug use, sexual behaviors, unhealthy dietary behaviors, and physical inactivity. This list is of particular concern for the increasingly diverse racial and ethnic youth of America who have been disproportionately affected by both morbidity and mortality from risk behaviors. To effectively care for this segment of the population, healthcare professionals need to become culturally competent. In so doing, it is also important to recognize traditional cultural values, and to acknowledge personal attributes of adolescents to promote healthy lifestyle choices and deter risk-taking behaviors.

Adolescents can feel invulnerable and thus take many health risks. Does the culture of the adolescent play a part in his or her risk taking?

Toni Michelle Christopherson is an Assistant Professor, California State University, Dominquez Hills, School of Health, Division of Nursing. She can be reached at California State University, Dominquez Hills, 1000 East Victoria Street, Carson, CA 90747 (

Maryalice Jordan-Marsh is an Associate Professor, School of Social Work and Independent Health Professions-Nursing, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.