Unexpected Findings in an Alternative High School: New Implications for Values Education
It has been well documented that today’s adolescents are at great risk for health-compromising behaviors. Researchers have identified values orientation and values education as important change agents in reducing these “risky” behaviors. It has also been suggested that an individual’s values orientation that is focused on the future and in a societal view of life is associated with protective and resilience factors with fewer health-compromising behaviors. This study examined adolescents’ values orientation and the occurrence of health-compromising behaviors. Health-compromising behaviors for this study included substance abuse, unsafe sexual practices, violence, and sensation-seeking activities. Results indicated that participants were not at risk for health-compromising behaviors related to a present, self-interest value orientation. Contrary to conventional wisdom about the health-compromising behaviors of students determined to be at “higher risk,” the students in this sample did not exhibit the traditional high-risk behaviors or the value orientations. Health-compromising behaviors of adolescents continue to be a priority for health educators, school administrators, as well as parents and other community members. It is imperative that further research explore the relationship between adolescent participation in “risky” behavior as well as the protective factors related to healthier choices.