Wednesday, 18th July 2012
Survey data shows increases in sex education in schools and high levels of contraceptive use among young people
The HSE Crisis Pregnancy Programme (formerly the Crisis Pregnancy Agency) has commented on the latest birth statistics released by the CSO, which show that the number of births to teenagers decreased from 2,019 in 2010 to 1,720 in 2011. Since the establishment of the Crisis Pregnancy Agency in 2001, the number of births to teenagers has declined from 3,087 in 2001 to 1,720 in 2011. This equates to a decrease in the birth rate from 20 per 1000 females aged 15-19 in 2001 to 12 per 1000 females aged 15-19 in 2011.
No. of births to teenagers (women under 20)
2001: 3,087; 2002: 2,948; 2003: 2,828; 2004: 2,493; 2005: 2,406; 2006: 2,335; 2007: 2,505; 2008: 2,426; 2009: 2,223; 2010: 2,019; 2011: 1,720
No. of births to teenagers (women under 20)
2001: 3,087; 2011: 1,720. % Decrease = 44%.
Speaking about the figures, Dr Stephanie O'Keeffe, Director of the Crisis Pregnancy Programme said: "It is welcome that we are continuing to see a decline in the number of births to teenagers. This year for the first time, we have evidence from a number of sources that indicates why the birth rate for teenagers has declined – there have been improvements in sex education, the age of first sex is stable at 17 years of age for men and increased slightly for women to 18 years of age. 90% of young people are using contraception when they have sex for the first time and 80% of young people use contraception every time they have sex."
The Health Behaviour in School Aged Children Survey, published by the Department of Health in April 2012, found that 27% of 15-17 year olds reported that they have had sex and that 93% of them used a condom at last intercourse. In addition, almost 60% of them used the contraceptive pill to prevent a pregnancy.
These findings are supported by the Irish Contraception and Crisis Pregnancy Study 2010, a nationally representative study of the general population published in May 2012. This study found a number of positive trends in the sexual knowledge and behaviour among young adults. It found that the median age for first sex remained stable between 2003 and 2010 at 17 years of age for men, and increased slightly for women, from 17 years to 18 years of age.
It also found that 86% of young people aged 18-25 received sex education as teenagers, compared with 76% of 26-35 year olds. Of those who received sex education, approximately 90% of 18-25 year olds said that they received it in school, compared with 80% of 26-35 year olds. The quality of sex education has improved, with 70% of young people saying that it was helpful to them in their relationships, compared to 60% of 26-35 year olds.
Findings showed that those who received sex education were 1.5 times more likely to have used contraception at first sex. Approximately 90% of young people aged between 18-25 said that they used contraception the first time they had sex. 80% of young people say that they use contraception consistently, every time they have sex. The use of long acting methods of contraception, such as the implant, the injection, the contraceptive ring and the contraceptive patch increased from 4% to 12%.
B4udecide.ie is a source of information on relationships and sexual health for teenagers developed by the Crisis Pregnancy Programme in partnership with the Department of Education and Skills and the National Youth Council of Ireland. The website is supported by resource materials and for teachers and youth workers, which are available free of charge on healthpromotion.ie and through free training.
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