It turns out they estimate the costs of drinking and drug-taking pretty accurately, they simply see the benefits as higher than older people do. If anything the teenagers see the risky activity as riskier than it really is. For that reason, a focus on informing teenagers about the true risk of the activity might alleviate rather than heighten their concerns.
Obviously the teenagers are wrong in pursuing so much risk.
There is then a breathtaking conclusion. First, teenagers need to be taught how to recognize the "gist" of a situation, namely to go beyond explicit calculation and see it as older people do. Second:
Dr. Reyna warned: “Younger adolescents don’t learn
from consequences as well as older adolescents do. So rather than
relying on them to make reasoned choices or to learn from the school of
hard knocks, a better approach is to supervise them.”
words, young teenagers need to be protected from themselves by removing
opportunities for risk-taking – for example, by filling their time with
positive activities and protecting them from risky situations that are
likely to be tempting or that require “behavioral inhibition.”
Here is the full article. I conclude that we still don’t know why teenagers take so many risks.