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A. The Facts About Teens Taking Risks

Narrator: This is Science Today. It seems the last thing you'd want to encourage teenagers to do is take risks. But University of California, San Francisco psychiatrist Lynn Ponton, say healthy risk taking can actually promote self-esteem and replace dangerous risks, such as drug use and unsafe sex.

Ponton: Healthy risk taking can be a volunteer job during the summer. It can be running for school office, so the whole concept of risk has to be seen as one that has opportunity for positive experience as well as kind of the Kurt Cobain, James Dean model we've come to expect - that it's all Rebel Without A Cause, or negative experience.

Narrator: But what about teens who ARE taking negative risks?

Ponton: Begin to keep to communication open. Bring up what you've discovered, share in an uncritical way some of your thoughts about it. A lot of parents think gee, if they ask this directly, they won't say anything and they'll run up and slam the door. That's not necessarily the case.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.