Lesson 2: Challenging risky behaviour

Why do people take risks? Do young people take more risks than other people? Why do they think young people take risks? How can they develop strategies for resisting peer and other influence/pressure to take risks?

Learning objectives

For students to:

  • consider why some young people engage in risky behaviour
  • understand that peer pressure can be used positively and negatively
  • develop strategies for resisting peer pressure
  • develop strategies for using positive peer pressure to keep themselves and those around them safe.



Links to PSHE - 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.2, 2.3, 4c


60 minutes plus optional extension

In this lesson, students explore the Under pressure interactive, looking at the reasons why young people take or are exposed to risk, and think about strategies for coping with these situations.

Introduction - What is a risk? - 5 minutes

  • Tell the students you are going to be looking at risk and the reasons behind why people, in particular young people, take risks. You will also look at developing strategies for coping with pressure to take risks.
  • Ask students: what is a risk? What risks do they, or people they know, take in their everyday lives (crossing the road on the way to school, leaving their bikes locked up outside a shop, trying a new style, taking a test, smoking, drinking alcohol, cycling to school, going on a fairground ride)? Write their answers on the board and ask which they class as the 'most' and 'least' risky. Why do they think this?

Note: for more exploration of 'What is risk', please refer to the Road safety education booklet for headteachers and senior managers.

Why do people take risks? - 10 minutes

  • Ask students why they think people take risks? Do young people take more risks than other people? Why do they think young people take risks? Answers might include:
    • trying new things out for themselves
    • trying to stand out from the crowd
    • wanting to be one of the crowd
    • peer pressure or emulation
    • establishing an identity
    • sense that harm will not happen to them, or any potential harm is too far in the future to consider (e.g. smoking)
    • benefits of peer acceptance or instant gratification seem to outweigh the risks
    • not taking the risk is boring.
  • Do students think they take a lot of risks themselves? Which of these reasons for taking risks do they think apply most to them?
  • Ask: can taking risks have any benefits (e.g. learning new skills, having positive experiences, developing as a person). How do you know if a risk is worth taking? (where the harm that may come to you as a result of taking the action is very severe and/or very likely, and this outweighs the benefits).

Under pressure - 20 minutes

  • Ask: what do you do if other people are making you feel that you have to take risks? Or if their risky behaviour is likely to cause you harm?
  • The Under pressure interactive presents students with six young people in this situation. Students are asked to think about what strategies they might use to keep themselves or others safer by resisting peer pressure to take risks or confront those whose risky behaviour puts them in danger.
  • If you have a suite of computers available, ask students to work alone or with a partner, entering their responses, which can be printed out.
  • When they've worked through all the scenarios, discuss as a class, using the interactive whiteboard. Ask them to share their advice to the young people. Which situations do they think are most realistic? What did they think of the suggestions offered by Keiron and Bethany? Whose advice was 'best' in their opinions, and why? Remind students that the advice offered is a suggestion, and not the 'right' answer. Can they think of better suggestions?
  • What strategies or techniques did they come across? Answers might include:
    • Trying to make the other person/people see reason a) by pointing out the risks to them and b) by pointing out the risks to you
    • Ignoring
    • Talking to an adult
    • Talking to other friends you can trust

If no computers are available, use the Under pressure (PDF 900KB) - new window worksheets instead. Fold along the dotted line to hide the 'Other opinions' section and ask students not to look at the advice given by Keiron and Bethany until they've had a go at writing their own.

Role play - 15 minutes

  • Students could work in groups to role-play one or more of the scenarios and act out how they would deal with them. Students could also suggest their own scenarios - if they do, make sure that the scenarios are appropriate and not distressing to any members of the group.
  • Ask the students how they felt in each of the roles. Do they feel more confident in dealing with these situations?

Reflection - 10 minutes

  • Ask: what have you learnt about risk? What strategies for challenging risky behaviour have you learnt?