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Reaching high-risk adolescents in a school setting: Is it possible?
The social cost of delinquency, drug use and injury among adolescents is extensive and highlights the need for interventions aimed at preventing such behaviour among children and adolescents. The potential benefits associated with saving one high-risk youth have been estimated to be a large as $2.7 million (Cohen, 1998). High-risk adolescents engage in a number of risky traffic-related behaviours such as underage driving and motorcyle riding on public roads, driving or motorcycle riding after drinking, and bicycle riding after drinking or without a helmet. This paper examines whether a school-based injury prevention program implemented in several South East Queensland high schools and delivered to Grade 9 students, successfully reached adolescents classified as high-risk. Results suggest that of 391 students in intervention schools who provided baseline or data 24.9% (n = 88) were classified as high-risk adolescents and a further 22.9% (n = 81) as medium high- risk. Of these youth, 64.8% of high-risk and 75.3% of medium-high-risk adolescents received the program and were retained to one-month follow-up. Preliminary results provide some evidence of the effectiveness to not only reach high-risk adolescent youth, but to also engage their participation in an injury prevention program implemented in high-schools.