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Home > Changing the future: experiencing adolescence in contemporary Ireland: sexual health and behaviour.

UNICEF Ireland. (2011) Changing the future: experiencing adolescence in contemporary Ireland: sexual health and behaviour. Dublin: UNICEF Ireland.

[img] PDF (sexual health and behaviour) - Published Version

If we create the space in which children and young people can talk openly and in their own language even upon challenging subjects such as sex, then we are likely to learn more from what they tell us’ proposes the final UNICEF Ireland report which examines adolescent perspectives on sexual health and behaviour. Key findings in the report included:

• 63%, and 1 in 5 sixteen year old respondents, reported that they have had sex;
• 1 in 5 sexually active respondents reported that they did not use a condom the first time that they had sex;
• 2 in 5 girls who were sexually active reported that they had consumed alcohol before their first sexual experience, compared to 3 in 10 boys;
• The majority of respondents (54%) reported that they had watched pornography on the internet, and more than one third of the respondents who had watched pornography on the internet believed that it was accurate or educational;
• Only 1 in 5 respondents reported that they ever speak to their parents about sex.

Noting ‘the broad spectrum from which young people living in Ireland draw down information about sex’ the UNICEF Ireland report concludes that ‘we must be sure that when a young person is making decisions about their sexual health and behaviour, every opportunity is afforded them in terms of open discussion, understanding, support, information and advice’

Commenting on the Report, Amel Yucef a Youth Health Coordinator at the Base Youth Centre, Ballyfermot said “As the participants in UNICEF Ireland’s survey have shown, many young people do not feel equipped with the information and support they need to make informed choices about their sexual health. Providing those supports is a priority for us at the Base.” The Youth Health Programme, that Amel co-ordinates is a HSE funded initiative which was created to respond to the health needs of young people, as identified by the young people of the Dublin 10 area themselves. The Programme delivers community-based and youth-friendly health responses, based upon a harm-reduction model. The Youth Health Programme works towards building the capacity of young people to access health services, while also encouraging those services to deliver in an accessible and youth-friendly way.

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