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Nearly a quarter of children worry about the economy and finances – survey

ALMOST a quarter of children and young people fret about the economy and finances, a new study showed.

Another sixth said the worst thing about living in Ireland is the weather, while 14pc complained about the education system.

Elsewhere one in ten quizzed for 'Life as a Child and Young Person in Ireland' said anti-social behaviour and crime was a problem in the country.

The figures were revealed following a national consultation completed by 66,705 primary and secondary school pupils in April 2011.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the study was the biggest of its kind ever conducted in Ireland.

"The findings of this consultation provide an interesting insight into contemporary Irish childhood and youth," she said.

"The scale of this consultation demonstrates the commitment of this Government, of my department and I, to listen to the views of children and young people.

"I encourage children and young people to play an active role in civic society and this report is an example of such engagement."

The report found youngsters felt:

:: the best things in Ireland were: education (21pc), sport (16pc), friends (14pc) and Irish identity (11pc).

:: the worst things were: the Irish economy and finances (23pc), weather (16pc), education (14pc) and anti-social behaviour and crime (10pc).

:: if they could, young people and children would change education (23pc), followed by the economy and finances (17pc), social problems (9pc), and places to go (7pc).

Ms Fitzgerald said youngsters expressed satisfaction with the Irish education system, however many also indicated they would like to change some aspect of it.

"In particular, young people highlighting concerns such as the need for a greater emphasis on science facilities and better use of technology in schools," she said.

"The fact that our tech-savvy young people can identify concerns in this regards should lend a focus to the Government's ongoing efforts to realise the vision for 21st Century Schools set-out in the Programme for Government, a vision which proposes that technology in education should no longer be considered as a stand-alone element but instead should be integrated across education policy."

Catherine Hunt, 15, said education is such an important part of a young person's life.

"Families are finding it hard to pay to put their children through school because of the recession,' she added.

Elsewhere 10-year-old Oisin O'Connor said: "I think the best thing about being a child is 'being Irish' because we have our own sports, we are known to be nice, we have a lot of parades such as St Patrick's Day, which millions of tourists come to see and we have our own ways like Irish dancing and the Irish language.

"I think we should be happy to be Irish and not like other countries living with a war."

The last time a similar consultation took place, back in 1999, there were only 825 responses from children and young people.

PA Media