Risk-Avert has been developed to explore different ways of helping young people understand and manage risk. It screens an entire year group (year 7 and 8) using an online or paper-based survey and aims to look beyond the behaviour to understand the access points to risk-taking.
Following the screening, a risk profile is generated for each child and school, and those most at risk are offered the programme. This approach targets young people most appropriate for the programme, enabling schools and local authorities to target resources based on need.
The survey is generating a huge database of information related to risk-taking behaviour in young people: this year over 6,000 young people will complete it. So far, key findings include:
17 per cent of young people surveyed have drunk alcohol with their peers
2.4 per cent of young people have tried a cigarette
The survey is also concerned with parental permissiveness and has found that:
13.1 per cent of young people think their parents would think it was only “a little bit wrong” or “not wrong at all” if they drank alcohol regularly.
The programme, which is delivered by teachers and other appropriate school staff, has been piloted in 20 schools across Essex and a further 17 in Medway and the evaluation and feedback has been positive:
94 per cent of young people felt more confident about making plans to avoid or manage risks
76 per cent of young people thought that their relationship with their teacher improved
86 per cent rated their improvement in knowledge around risk-taking behaviour between 8-9 out of 10
86 per cent thought their confidence had improved, with most reporting an average score of 8-9 out of 10.
Risk-Avert has been jointly developed by Essex County Council and The Training Effect, a specialist consultancy with specific expertise around young people and public health.
Mark Bowles, director of The Training Effect, said: “Risk-Avert is a radical shift in approach to tackling drugs, tobacco and alcohol consumption by young people. The programme can identify at an early stage those young people who are more likely to take negative risks later in life and deliver cognitive behavioural interventions to help them avoid or manage those risks.We have all been stunned by the positive results from the pilot and how effective the programme has been.”
The programme has been developed in close cooperation with key stakeholders from health, education, police and the voluntary sector.
Ben Hughes, head of commissioning: public health and wellbeing at Essex County Council said: “We have been really pleased with the outcome of the programme. It is a new way to address these issues and seems to resonate far more effectively with young people than other methods.”
Risk-Avert is now being rolled out to other local authorities, academies and independent schools across the UK.