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Fewer Irish children are getting drunk and doing drugs, study finds

Cannabis and alcohol consumption is down when compared to 1998 levels.

Image: Shutterstock/Syda Productions

FEWER CHILDREN ARE smoking and getting drunk according to an in-depth study carried out by NUI Galway on the behaviour of the Irish youth.

The ‘Health Behaviour in school-aged Children in Ireland (HBSC) from 1998-2014 Report’ studied a number of health factors affecting Irish teenagers. These included drug use, alcohol intake and tobacco use.

Some of the findings included:

  • 8% of Irish children aged 10-17 said they were smoking in 2014 compared to 23% in 1998
  • 21% reported being drunk at some point in their lives in 2014 compared to 33% in 1998
  • 8% reported that they had used cannabis in the last year down from 12% in 1998
  • Seat-belt wearing rates have doubled by (81%) amongst children

The HBSC was conducted in collaboration with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and runs every four years.

In 2014, there were 42 participating countries and regions collecting data on the health behaviours, health outcomes and contexts of children’s lives.

Minister of State with responsibility for health promotion Marcella Corcoran-Kennedy said the report is very important research.

She said: “We know that lifestyle patterns are established at an early age. We also know that chronic diseases, such as diabetes and cardiac disease, can develop as a result of lifestyle choices.

Having detailed information about the lifestyle choices of our children is hugely significant for the choices we make as a country on the future direction of our national health policy. It is important that we now listen to the responses of our children on these key questions and work together to build a health system that responds to this information.

Professor Saoirse Nic Gabhainn from the Health Promotion Research Centre at NUI Galway said that the report is the culmination of many years of work, and brings some good news about the health behaviours of children in Ireland over the years.

“Communication with parents also continues to improve. Yet more still needs to be done to improve their health, in particular around physical activity. Other areas of concern are the increases in feeling pressured by schoolwork. Importantly, the proportion of children reporting high life satisfaction and being happy, fundamental aspects of childhood, is high and has been sustained over the years.”

Read: Tusla is “very concerned” after child sexual abuse issue raised on RTE Investigates >

Read: Man accused of raping woman he met on Tinder told gardaí he met her for “a hook up” >

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