The prevalence of risky behaviors among young offenders



*Pineau-Villeneuve C, Laurier C, Fredette C, Guay JP. (2015). The prevalence of risky behaviors among young offenders Revue Drogues, Santé et Société. 14(1): 111-131.


The prevalence of risky behaviors among young offenders is important and the social costs associated are equally as risk-taking can lead to harmful consequences, both for the young and for the environment and society in general. Several researchers argue that various risky behaviors are indicators of a propensity to deviate from established rules. Moreover, it appears that within the deviant peer groups such as street gangs, these behaviors are valued. Therefore the present study proposes a comparative portrait of Montreal’s young offenders associated or not with gangs in terms of their risk behaviors. To this end, 206 young offenders between the ages of 14 and 25 (mean = 18.4 years), were interviewed in four youth centers and two detention centers in the Montreal area between June 2011 and December 2013. Three questionnaires were used to compare the adolescents on their conduct. Bivariate analysis were performed. The results suggest that risk-taking is very common among young offenders. In addition, the results suggest that youth related to gangs seem more inclined than the others to experiment all types of risky behavior and are slightly more likely to report an addiction and harmful use of alcohol. A better understanding of the young offenders’ behavior, who are part of a gang or not, will guide clinicians on the intervention strategies best suited to their reality.