Summary of Sex, Drugs and Self-Control

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Sex, Drugs and Self-Control summary

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Risky behavior causes a large proportion of deaths among teenagers. Yet recent studies have found that risk appetite among adolescents is no higher than among adults. In this article, Nature’s news feature editor Kerri Smith looks at the latest research into teenage brain development, which explores the factors that determine risk behavior among adolescents and its impact on the brain – and how these findings can, and should, inform policies. This article will engage anyone who wants to get the adolescents in their care safely through their teenage years.

About the Author

Kerri Smith is a feature editor for Nature, covering life sciences. Her background is in human sciences and neuroscience.


Research has found that risk appetite among adolescents is no higher than among adults.

Adolescents tend to take more risks than adults. Statistics show that death among teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 is more often than not the result of risky behavior.

In particular for males in the age range, the main causes of death are road injuries, violence and self-harm. However, these statistics do not necessarily mean that teenagers are more willing to take risks. Rather, research into brain development and risk behavior shows that very often it is the context that determines the risk appetite...

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