Research and analysis

Children and young people’s risk behaviours: discussion paper

This publication explores the decrease in 'risky' behaviours in children and young people, possible causes and what new risks could emerge.


The Horizon Scanning Programme Team led a research project on ‘risk behaviours’ in children and young people in the first year of the programme.

Risk behaviours potentially expose people to harm, or significant risk of harm which will prevent them reaching their potential, or damage their health and wellbeing. The evidence suggests a slow and steady decline in risk behaviours and negative outcomes, such as drinking, drug use, smoking, youth crime, suicide, and teenage pregnancy.

On 14 October 2014, Sir Mark Walport, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, chaired a discussion to explore these trends in more detail.

This paper summarises the views of the academics, practitioners, policy officials and young people at this discussion. It is not a statement of government policy.

The trends data pack sets out how a range of risk behaviours and negative outcomes have changed over time for children and young people.