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Adolescence, sense of identity and risk taking amongst female students in a senior secondary school in Tasmania


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Wood, D 2009 , 'Adolescence, sense of identity and risk taking amongst female students in a senior secondary school in Tasmania', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This research examined risk taking, with the main focus being negative risk
taking and the main target adolescent females in a Senior Secondary School
setting in Tasmania, using three varied methodologies and perspectives for
the data collection. The first, and major method, used a questionnaire
distributed to a Year 11 group of females, aged sixteen to nineteen, who
were just beginning their first year of non –compulsory, post secondary
education. This questionnaire covered many socio-demographic factors in
the females’ lives and had the main focus of discovering their risk taking
perceptions and participation rates regarding four main areas of negative risk
taking, namely alcohol and drug use and abuse, sexual activity and the
viewing of X-Rated (pornographic) videos. The socio-demographic
information concentrated on the females’ sense of self, their personal goals
and positive and negative risk taking activities within the context of social
capital, psychological, social, educational, risk taking and health background
theory and in the three domains of family, school and community.
Comparisons were drawn between the town and country female participants.
To provide a wider perspective on the topic of risk taking, interviews were
also conducted with those professionals and carers of adolescent children,
namely School Administrators, Teachers, and Parents to provide information
from the reality of adolescents’ lives. These adults gave important insights
into the actual issues, common to this age group. They provided information
regarding the nature of their discussions about risk- taking and the strategies
they utilized to produce resilience in adolescents and the avoidance of
negative risk-taking activities.
The third source of data involved a review of the Australian and State
Policies impinging on aspects of the curricula suitable for these adolescents.
These policies demonstrated two approaches to the topics under discussion in
this thesis. The Australian Government policies gave broad, generic
guidelines to the problems associated with negative risk taking and provided
funding, whilst the individual States provided the actual curricula and
personnel. Funding was a key component for the successful implementation
of the State programs.
The major findings from the questionnaire emphasised that the females’
sense of self, parental influence and, to a lesser extent, religious values will
decrease negative risk taking. The advice from the adults in the interviews
focused on maintaining a positive attitude about adolescent risk taking
activities, with the use of personal experiences to provide guidelines for
appropriate behaviour. The analysis of the policies emphasised the need to
provide healthy, supportive environments for adolescents and appropriate
information about negative risk taking.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Wood, D
Keywords: Adolescence, self identity, risk taking
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