Dominant explanations of young people's health risk behaviours echo essentialist notions of perceived invulnerability and risk misperception. Rural youth, however, are considered particularly "at-risk". In this paper I argue for a need to challenge rural youth discourses, as they can have counterproductive implications.
To evidence this need I draw on interview data from research that examined sexual (and other) risk perceptions among young rural Tasmanians. Findings revealed that participants were aware of rural youth stereotypes and often sought to distinguish themselves from these; were cognisant of their susceptibility to risk; and employed particular strategies to reduce the risks they faced. While these strategies are not perfect or foolproof, they nonetheless signify young people's efforts to mitigate health risks. It is important to recognise this.