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Pike, Brigid (2011) What do children want to know? Drugnet Ireland, Issue 38, Summer 2011, p. 6.

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Every four years some 40 countries survey their school-aged children in order to find out about their health and well-being, health behaviours and their social context and to inform future health promotion policies. Known as the Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) study, this survey uses a methodology and protocol chosen in collaboration with the WHO Regional Office for Europe.  Ireland has participated in this project since the 1990s and the results of the fourth iteration of the study in Ireland, undertaken in 2010, are due to be published in the near future.1  

In undertaking this research and disseminating the findings over the years, HBSC Ireland has liaised with various stakeholder groups, with one exception – school children themselves. Following the completion of the third iteration of the survey in 2006, it was decided to rectify this omission. The Health Promotion Research Centre at National University of Ireland Galway undertook an exploratory study of Irish school students’ views on the questions contained in the HBSC survey.2
Students aged 10–18 years in mixed gender primary and post-primary schools, both advantaged and disadvantaged, in urban and rural areas, took part in participatory workshops with HBSC researchers. They were invited to identify which of the 51 HBSC topics they found most interesting and to document what they would like to know about the top 12 topics that they had selected.  
The top five ‘most interesting’ topics included, in descending order of priority as determined by the school students, use of alcohol, puberty, drugs, getting drunk and smoking,. The broad types of questions that the workshop participants identified in relation to each of these five topics are as follows.
1.       Alcohol – types and makes, why drink and the cost, age and how many, effects, drinking amounts?
2.       Puberty – what is it, what happens and why, body changes and effects, age and gender, does it hurt, pregnancy and sex?
3.       Drugs – what are they and types, how are drugs made, sources, cost, effects, why use them, addiction and quitting?
4.       Being really drunk – how it works, how many, how much, effects, age and source, why get drunk?
5.       Smoking – types and makes, cost and how many, age and gender, effects, addiction, quitting?
The authors concluded, ‘Within this study, children have clearly articulated the HBSC topics that were of most interest to them and what they would like to know about these topics, resulting in a reference document for those working in health practice and policy. ... The questions that the students have about health and well-being need to be answered, through both school and out of school settings’ (p. 23).
1.Reports on the results of the 2002 and 2006 HBSC surveys in Ireland may be found in Drugnet Ireland, Issues 8 and 24.
2.Doyle P, Kelly C, Cummins G, Sixsmith J, O’Higgins S, Molcho M and Nic Gabhainn S (2010) Health behaviour in school-aged children: what do children want to know? Dublin: Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs and the Department of Health and Children.

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