Risky Business: The Paradoxical Meaning of Problem Behavior for Young Adolescents

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Concurrent and longitudinal relations among Canadian adolescents' problem behavior (PB), self-image, and peer relations were examined. The relationship of adolescents' perceptions of fun and risk with their PB also were explored. A total of 96 young adolescents (mean age at Time 1 = 11.6 years) completed questionnaires on four occasions spanning 3 1/2 years. Measures were PB (disobeying parents, school misconduct, substance use, antisocial behavior), self-image, peer relations (involvement, acceptance), and beliefs about the fin and risk of PBs. Mean-level analyses showed increases with age in disobedience, school misconduct, substance use, and peer involvement. Longitudinal increases in PB were associated with decreases in positive self-image and increases in peer acceptance and involvement. Beliefs about fun and risk predicted up to 56% of the variance in PB, with fun more consistently the significant predictor. Discussion focuses on the paradox that PB may have constructive and destructive functions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)344-362
Number of pages19
JournalThe Journal of Early Adolescence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1995

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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