Children and Young People at Risk

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The aim of this course is to lead students to:
1. To know the concept of risk and other related concepts, as well as the main theoretical and methodological approaches adopted in their study.
2. To know the main approaches in the study of children and youth at risk.
3. To know more thoroughly situations and risk behaviors specific of children and youth.
4. To know the main explanations for children and youth risk behaviors, for their causes and consequences.
5. To know analytical procedures suitable for the study of children and youth risk situations.
6. To know intervention programs and procedures to address children and youth risk situations.


This program addresses the issue of children and youth at risk. Since this is a very complex issue, it seeks to include fundamental aspects of the classical literature on the subject as well as more recent contributions coming from psychological research on risk. There is intersection of knowledge from different areas of psychology as well as content rooted in other disciplines such as medicine, law, sociology and education. After a review of basic and structuring concepts (eg children and youth at risk, risk behaviors, etc.) the program explores a number of risk situations regarding what pertains to the individual, the context and the possible relationships between these two dimensions. The program also aims to further study a set of policy alternatives, with a more individual approach or a more systemic or community orientation, intended to prevent, mitigate or resolve situations of risk in childhood and adolescence.

Teaching Methodologies

The methodology followed in the course calls for an active and reflective attitude and is based on activities, carried out individually and in group, streamlined by the teacher and the students. Activities include the presentation of thematic content by the teacher as well as the analysis of texts, the production of individual essays, and participation in debates by the students. Consequently, the classes will be both theoretical and practical.

The evaluation of students is based on a term paper on a topic of the topic behaviour. In addition to the involvement of the student in course activities, other aspects are also taken into consideration: the quality of the conceptual framework of the study object; the rationale underlying the topic selection; the appropriateness of the method used in the topic research; and the quality of written and oral communication.


Lightfoot, C. (1997). The Culture of Adolescent Risk-Taking. New York: The Guilford Press.

Muñoz, S.-A. (2009). Children in the outdoors. A literature review. Forres, Scotland: Sustainable Development Research Center.
Pange, J. & Talbot, M. (2003). Literature survey and children’s perception on risk. The international journal on mathematics education (35)4, 1-8.
Romer, D. (Ed.) (2003). Reducing Adolescent Risk. Toward an integrated approach. London: Sage.
SEESAC (2007). Literature Review on Children and Risk-Taking: Implications for Education on Small Arms.
Belgrade: SEESAC.
Silva, M.H.D., Fonseca, A.C., Alcoforado, L., Vilar, M.M. & Vieira, M. (Eds.) (2004). Crianças e jovens em risco. Da investigação à intervenção. Coimbra: Almedina.
Trimpop, R. M. (1994). The Psychology of Risk Taking Behavior. Amsterdam: North-Holland



ECTS Credits



  • Orientação Tutorial - 15 hours
  • Teórico-Práticas - 30 hours

Evaluation Methodology

  • According to Teaching Methods: 100%