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IFPA calls on politicians to act on new reports into sexual health and behaviour in Ireland

By November 26, 2004News

– Release date: 26 November 2004

The Irish Family Planning Association has today (26.11.04) welcomed the publication of three reports by the Crisis Pregnancy Agency on sexual health and attitudes in Ireland.

The research, which underpins each of these reports, confirms the observations that the IFPA has been making for some time with regard to changing behavior and attitudes towards sex.

According to the IFPA's Chief Executive, Niall Behan, "while it is nothing new to the IFPA that people are having their first sexual experience at an earlier age and are taking more risks, we hope that the publication of this research will motivate our politicians into developing a realistic policy response, particularly with regard to sex education.

"For too long, politicians have run scared of developing a policy response to our changing sexual behaviour and attitudes. Some have even gone so far as to obstruct efforts by orgnisations, such as the IFPA, to promote more responsible and informed sexual behaviour in Ireland.

"It is not the role of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency to put in place new services or implement new policy. That's the job of our elected representatives. Now that the research is on the table, there are no excuses for inaction.

Commenting specifically on the report into teenage sexuality, Niall Behan said, "this report clearly shows that parents and schools are not being pro-active in the delivery of quality sex education, often leaving it to each other. The consequence of this is that some young people get minimal sex education. Parents and teachers need the support and resources to assist them in communicating with young people about sex in a manner that promotes dialogue.

"The report confirms that young people have rejected Catholic social teaching, such as delaying sex until after marriage. However, many of the service providers for teenagers, including schools and youth groups, are still very influenced by Catholic social teaching when providing information on sexual relations.

"Sex education needs to be delivered in an environment where young people are comfortable. Sex education programmes need to focus on empowerment and assertiveness. Quality, non-judgmental information can help teenagers decide when they are ready for sex and may delay first sexual intercourse.

"Meanwhile, there is an overwhelming need for better access to services for young people. Both the lack of appropriateness of adult-focused services and their prohibitive cost prevent young people from accessing sexual health services. A reduction in the cost of contraception for young people is also needed to help reduce the instance of crisis pregnancy and of contracting an STI," added Niall Behan.

The IFPA have not received advanced access to the two other reports, relating to early school leavers and adults, and consequently have been unable to comment specifically on their findings.

Useful Links: Crisis Pregnancy Agency