Students at Risk

Students moving out of the family home to college face a number of challenges as they adjust to their newfound independence, and risks can stem from a number of sources both behavioral and environmental. Behavioral issues such as alcohol abuse can jeopardize student safety just as much as external factors like poor quality housing or crime.

A survey carried out on 1,000 students in 2009 found that college students were likely to take risks with their personal security. Their safety and that of their possessions was put in peril by the lack of a common sense approach to security. For example a large proportion of students (40 percent) were found to be at risk of identity theft by providing their social security numbers online. In the same survey 1,000 parents were questioned with most (89 percent) saying they had discussed aspects of student safety before their children had left for school.

One reason for behavior-based student risk could be due to the fact that adolescents may not have developed the same sense of risk as an adult and may be less capable of competent decision-making. Young people have usually not been exposed to risk as much as adults and may not fully consider the possible consequences of their actions. Adolescence can often come with a cavalier attitude towards risk and the perception that they are invulnerable to consequences. Sleep deprivation may also play a part in increased risk-taking among students. Risks include poor academic performance as well as threat to personal safety. From 1969 to 2001, college students reported a drop the mean hours of sleep they received, from 7.75 hours per night to 6.65 hours. A campus culture of parties, stress and work is said to influence these figures. A lack of sleep can impact on the general health and wellbeing of the student and could lead to anxiety and depression. Sleep deficiency is also known to contribute to occupational and traffic accidents.

Student risk-taking is not limited to a lack of concern about their property or identity. Students may be at risk from health issues linked to alcohol abuse and sexual misadventure. The Center for Disease Control carried out a survey in 1999 that showed one third of students were involved in the episodic heavy drinking of alcohol. In addition, students aged between 18 to 24 were more likely than older students to ride with a driver who had been drinking. Only 29.6 percent of respondents had practiced safe sex in the three months prior to completing the survey. Almost one third of the students were smokers.

Risk taking in students is said to be affected by a number of factors including personality traits, parental controls and the influence of peers. Students may participate in certain activities in order to foster relationships with their peers and in doing so perceive themselves to be avoiding isolation from the group. In one study, male students were found to be more at risk from peer influence over alcohol consumption. Students who are schooled away from home are believed to be more likely to take risks, having greater freedom. Their home environment is still said to influence behavior; a correlation was found between those whose parents approved of alcohol consumption and a student's increased alcohol intake.

Housing that is not owned or managed by the school may pose as much risk as student behavior, with risk of domestic hazards including gas leaks or exposed wires. For example in the first decade of the 21st century, U.S. organization Campus Firewatch recorded 136 fire deaths. The majority of these, 114, occurred in off-campus housing. The actual figure may be much higher as not all off-campus fires are necessarily reported as relating to students. Off-campus housing is often overcrowded, with students packed into a house that was originally built to house families of four or five. The houses are generally older properties where safety measures are insufficient; they may lack the wiring capacity to contend with electrical equipment often found in campus housing, such as computers, microwave ovens, portable heaters and air conditioners. Many of these properties do not feature sprinkler systems. Student behavior may compound the problems presented by poor student housing. Many victims of fatal off-campus housing fires are found to have elevated blood-alcohol levels. Social events also increase the problem of overcrowding; guests often sleep over and are unfamiliar with the layout of the house so prospects of escape in the event of fire may be reduced.

Students at Risk: Selected full-text books and articles

Classroom Strategies for Helping At-Risk Students By David R. Snow; Zoe A. Barley; Patricia A. Lauer; Sheila A. Arens; Helen S. Apthorp; Kerry S. Englert; Motoko Akiba Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2005
Identifying Students at Risk, Monitoring Performance, and Determining Eligibility within Response to Intervention: Research on Educational Need and Benefit from Academic Intervention By Shinn, Mark R School Psychology Review, Vol. 36, No. 4, December 2007
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Classroom Assessment Strategies: What Do Students At-Risk and Teachers Perceive as Effective and Useful? By Rieg, Sue A Journal of Instructional Psychology, Vol. 34, No. 4, December 2007
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Reclaiming the Future for Students at Risk: New Approaches to Dropout Prevention By Schachter, Ron District Administration, Vol. 49, No. 3, March 2013
Secondary Interventions in Reading: Providing Additional Instruction for Students at Risk By Vaughn, Sharon; Roberts, Greg Teaching Exceptional Children, Vol. 39, No. 5, May/June 2007
Mentoring Students & Young People: A Handbook of Effective Practice By Andrew Miller Kogan Page, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Mentoring for Students 'at Risk' of Exclusion"
Using Lean in the Flipped Classroom for at Risk Students By Flumerfelt, Shannon; Green, Greg Educational Technology & Society, Vol. 16, No. 1, January 2013
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Title I, Compensatory Education at the Crossroads By Geoffrey D. Borman; Samuel C. Stringfield; Robert E. Slavin Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2001
Librarian's tip: Chap. 6 "Effective Instructional Practices for Students Placed at Risk of Academic Failure"
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