Sunday 4 December 2016

Two thirds of Irish 18-year-olds have not had sexual intercourse, major study finds

Published 03/11/2016 | 02:30

There is a direct relationship between a mother's level of education and their child's school performance and weight, a new study has found.

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The survey of over 6,000 young people also revealed that almost half of 17- and 18-year-olds drink once a month or less and a similar figure have never smoked.

But it found they engage in what could be considered risky sexual behaviour, as 40pc admitted to partaking in oral sex.

One in three has had sexual intercourse.

Males were more likely to report being sexually active than females (45pc compared to 39pc).

Some 56pc of 17/18-year-olds who reported having had sexual intercourse also reported that they always used a condom, although a sizeable minority (11pc) said they never used one.

The study found that 4pc of young people whose mother had a degree were obese, compared to 14pc of those whose mother had left school at Junior Certificate or earlier (Stock picture)
The study found that 4pc of young people whose mother had a degree were obese, compared to 14pc of those whose mother had left school at Junior Certificate or earlier (Stock picture)

Research from the latest Growing Up in Ireland study provides significant insights into the lives of young adults, whose progress has been followed since 2007.

It found that 84pc are still in school, while a further 10pc have gone on to further or higher education.

Just 2pc are working, while similar figures are in training or unemployed.

"Educational performance from nine years on is consistently related to level of mother's education," the report, which will be launched by Children's Minister Katherine Zappone today, said.

Nearly half (49pc) of the young people in Leaving Cert year were taking grinds when questioned for the study, while another 20pc expected to take some before sitting their exams.

Girls and young people from higher-income families were more likely to take grinds.

One third of those who are still in school have part-time jobs, earning an average of €72 per week.

There was also a strong relationship between weight status and the social status of the young person's family.

For example, 4pc of young people whose mother had a degree were obese, compared to 14pc of those whose mother had left school at Junior Certificate or earlier.

The report said adolescence is often characterised "as a time of self-discovery, of new experiences, of forging new relationships".

Under a section entitled 'Risky Health Behaviours and Sexual Activity', it found that 89pc have consumed alcohol but just 6pc drank two to three times a week. Some 40pc drank two to four times a month.

In general, males tended to drink more often than females.

When the young people were interviewed four years ago at 13 years of age, 16pc of them said they had already drank alcohol.

These young people who had early experience of alcohol were more likely to be frequent drinkers and to consume more units of alcohol in a sitting when they drank, by the time they were 17/18 years of age.

Only 8pc of young people said they smoked daily.

In relation to sex, 40pc reported having had oral sex and 33pc had sexual intercourse.

Some 56pc of those who reported having had sexual intercourse always used a condom, although a sizeable minority (11pc) said they never used one.

Ms Zappone said the study showed some "very positive findings", as the majority of young people are healthy and have a good outlook on school and life.

"The key findings, however, also raise some areas of concern. For example, children from families who are better off educationally or financially continue to fare better than those who are less well-off across a range of outcomes," she said.

Irish Independent

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