A new report launched today has revealed that drinking, sex and depression are as constant in Irish teenagers life as school.
The findings are the first results from interviews with just over 6,000 17/18-year-olds who have been participating in the study since 2007, when they were 9 years of age.
The report, accumulated over nine years, was researched by the ESRI. It has shown that while most 17 to 18-year-olds are satisfied with their lives, there are still a number of issues facing the typical Irish teen.
Drug and alcohol use, as well as their sex lives, were also explored.
The study found:
- 98% of teens were in some form of education, work or training.
- The average teenager earns €72 a week from a part-time job.
- One in five are overweight
- Females more likely to struggle with their weight
- One in ten 17/18-year-olds reported that they had been diagnosed with depression, anxiety or both by a medical professional.
- 89% said they had drank alcohol with 40% drinking 2-4 times per month.
- 40% reported that they had had oral sex, while 33% said they had had sexual intercourse.
- 56% said they always used a condom, although 11% said they never used one.
- 13% of 17/18-year-olds said that they felt a little pressure and 4% said they felt a lot of pressure to have sex
- 8% said they smoked every day
- 51% of 17/18-year-olds said that they had never smoked
- Just under 30% had used cannabis in their lives.
The report also found that the vast majority of young people are happy with their lives - although, that did depend on their socio-economic background.
One aspect of the study, however, stayed relatively constant for those from all backgrounds - and that was that family and health were the two most important things in life.
Politics and religion were deemed the least important.
Welcoming the publication of the findings, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone had this to say:
I note some of the very positive findings presented today, the majority of 17/18 year olds are healthy, they have positive views of their lives, as well as a positive perception of school, and a substantial majority of 17/18 year olds still in school report they intend to go on to tertiary education; The key findings however also raise some areas of concern, for example, children from families who are better off educationally or financially continue tend to fare better than those who are less well-off across a range of outcomes.
I welcome the rich contribution the Growing Up in Ireland study is making to our knowledge of children’s lives in Ireland. The addition of data on 17/18 year olds will make a valuable contribution to our knowledge of child development over time.
It is important that these initial findings, and more detailed findings that will emerge once the data is examined in more detail, are used and understood by those involved in making policy and providing services. I know the data for example is directly relevant to a number of recent policy initiatives including, for example, the National Obesity Strategy and the National Sexual Health Strategy.