The purpose of this secondary data analysis study was to describe what youth in a rural setting expressed as risk factors by sampling data from an existing ten year data set generated by academic service learning (ASL) students delivering educational psychology services to Grade 9 clients in a rural schools. Rurality theory served as theoretical framework and phenomenology was used as metatheory. Data sources, indicative of youth-expressed risk were purposively sampled from 2012 to 2015 cohorts and included data sources from clinical client files (n=64, client files, male client files =32, female client files =32; 2012: ASL: n=16, male=10, female=6; 2013: n=16, male=8, female=8; 2014: n=16, male=7, female=9; 2015: n=16, male=7, female=9). The data sources) included clients’ projective and expressive instruments, as well as ASL students’ (i) quadrant maps (analysing the client socioeconomic contexts), and (ii) reflection notes.
Following inductive thematic analysis the following risk themes emerged: low socioeconomic status (Lack of resources, Unemployment - limited job opportunities, Poverty - household income), lack of community safety (Crime, and Game (wildlife), negative objective and subjective health and wellbeing (Bullying, Loss - Grief and bereavement, Illness, and Limited self-regulation), as well as multiple barriers to education (Language of learning and teaching (LOLT), Lack of learning resources, Teacher proximity constraints, Absent parents and Peer pressure). Although these risk factors are known to act as barriers to development for young people this study contributes by indicating these as particular risk factors that young people themselves signify as pertinent challenges they need to address. Young people were silent on racism, neglect and conservatism as risk factors present in rurality theory.