Unwanted pregnancy: 75pc of women in crisis have the baby, 15pc abort
MORE than 5,500 women with a crisis pregnancy had 8,000 hours of counselling last year, new figures show.
The Crisis Pregnancy Programme said women attended 15 services it funds around the country, while thousands more received advice over the phone.
The largest age group attending services was 18 to 24-year-olds, with the average age being 23.
Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, acting director, said providing sex education in school and in the home is the single most important thing that can be done to prevent unplanned pregnancies and the spread of infections.
"While we have seen sustained reductions in teenage pregnancy and teenage abortion rates over the last 10 years, evidence shows that young people continue to face immense pressures from the internet, advertising, and of course their peers," said Dr O'Keeffe.
"The Crisis Pregnancy Programme will be co-ordinating a large-scale dissemination of the lesson plans to post-primary schools and youth work settings over the coming months."
Financial reasons, an unplanned pregnancy, medical difficulties and relationship problems are the most common reasons given for a crisis pregnancy.
Research shows about 75pc of women with a crisis pregnancy opt to have the baby, while 15pc have an abortion. The rest either suffer a miscarriage or have their baby adopted.
In its annual report for 2010, the Crisis Pregnancy Programme revealed its website, crisispregnancy.ie, received more than 20,000 visits last year.
Meanwhile b4udecide.ie - its education initiative which aims to encourage teenagers to make healthy decisions about relationships and sex - had 80,000 hits during the year.
Elsewhere 65,000 people visited its Positive Options website, which promotes counselling during a crisis pregnancy, and 19,000 text messages were received by staff.
Another 100,000 people visited its thinkcontraception.ie website during 2010, while some 70,000 Think Contraception Protection Packs were distributed at a range of music events.
Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, launched new lesson plans for teachers and youth workers which aim to encourage teens to make healthy, responsible decisions about relationships and sex.
The b4udecide.ie lesson plans are developed by the Programme with the Department of Education and support from the National Youth Council of Ireland.
Ms Fitzgerald said parents, teachers and youth workers need to be supported in taking an effective role in delivering relationships and sexuality education.
"Young people today talk about how they experience pressures to engage in sexual behaviour from many sources including friends, boyfriends, girlfriends and the media," she said.
"Teenagers and indeed younger children are exposed to more sexual messaging than at any time in the past.
"In this context, young people need good, clear information from their parents, schools and youth work settings on how to establish and conduct happy, safe, loving relationships and how to avoid crisis pregnancy and STIs."