Irish kids are drinking less, smoking less and having less sex

Irish kids are drinking less, smoking less and having less sex

THERE has been a drop in the number of children who admit to drinking, smoking and having sex in Ireland.

According to a new study, Irish kids aged between 10 and 17 were queried about their drinking and smoking habits, as well as their sexual activity, and figures in all three categories are going down.

The Health Behaviours in School-aged Children (HBSC) Study, commissioned by the Department of Health, attempts to open a window into certain health trends among Irish youths.

It surveyed 15,500 children from 255 primary and post-primary schools across the country.

Results showed that around two-thirds of respondents say they've never had an alcoholic drink - which is a 6% increase on a similar study taken five years ago.

It noted that the most common source of alcohol for children is from within the family home.

Just over one in 10 admitted to trying smoking, a drop of 5% since 2014's study, while one in five said they'd tried e-cigarettes at some point.

There's also been a reduction in the number of 15-17-year-olds who claim to have had sex, with just under one in four admitting to sexual conquest, a 3% drop on 2014's figures.

Take these particular statistics with a pinch of salt though. Just consider for a moment what a 15-year-old you might tell someone who's just asked you about your sex-life. Scottish comedian Kevin Bridges rather nails it here:

The study also looked at physical health.

While 52% of children report exercising four or more times per week, 9% of 10 to 17-year-olds report being physically inactive.

21% of children report eating sweets once or more per day, while 7% report consumption of soft drinks. These figures are down from 27% and 13% respectively in 2014.

Health Minister Simon Harris said of the study: "The health and wellbeing of our children is a key indicator of the health of the nation, and I am pleased to see many positive trends. In particular, the good news around smoking and alcohol use by children which both continue to decline.

"However, the numbers of teenagers trying e-cigarettes and vaping products is a cause for concern and will be addressed by measures I will introduce in 2020, including new legislation to ban the sale of e-cigarettes to children under the age of 18.

"Given the damaging effect that alcohol can have on the growing brain, the reduction in children trying alcohol and children reporting having been drunk is welcome. However, I am struck by the finding that by far the most common source of alcohol for children is within their family home. This is an issue that all of us, as parents and adults in the lives of young people, need to reflect on. We need to change our culture around alcohol in Ireland, if we are to reduce the corrosive effects alcohol has on so many young lives."