– Release date: 19 September 2003
The Irish Family Planning Association has said that The Irish Times poll which found that 25% of those under 17 years were sexually active is in keeping with the findings of three other polls which have been undertaken in separate health boards over the past 12 months.
“Quality data is important in informing programmes and policy to respond to sexual activity among young people. Polls and surveys, such as this one carried out by The Irish Times/ TNS mrbi, are useful in building a picture. However, at this stage, in-depth national profiling of young people’s experiences and attitudes is necessary to provide us with a comprehensive overall picture.
“Some preliminary work is now underway by statutory agencies to prepare the way for a national survey on sexual attitudes and behaviour. It is crucial that the main focus of such a survey will be young people, including those under the age of 17. If this age group is ignored, that survey will have little value.
“Up to now, there has been a reluctance at a national level to engage in work to ascertain the experiences and attitudes of teenagers when it comes to sex. This was reinforced by a Government decision to delete questions on sexual activity and contraception, which were contained in a questionnaire from the World Health Organisation just last year. This survey was being conducted in schools.”