Problems of inner city teenagers highlighted


Low levels of education, limited employment prospects, high drug use and early sexual activity of teenagers in Dublin's inner city have been highlighted in a new report.

Commissioned by Lourdes Youth and Community Services (LYCS), the report is based on interviews with a sample of 100 local teenagers. It found almost 90 per cent left school before completing the Leaving Certificate, while just over half had left without their Junior Certificate. Sixty per cent were suspended from school at one time.

Almost half had been involved with the courts, the probation service, the Garda or statutory agencies. More than a quarter were not involved in employment, education or training. Almost two-thirds have some income through low-skilled, low-paid jobs, training allowances or social welfare.

More than 40 per cent had used illegal drugs, and 80 per cent, some as young as 14, drank alcohol. A total of 70 per cent were sexually active by the age of 16, while 30 per cent engaged in unprotected sex.

Recommendations in the report include the establishment of an education task force to tackle high drop-out rates. Funding is also needed to engage the older teenage group in positive initiatives, it says.

Employment training opportunities for early school-leavers need to be developed, along with career development from employers, it says. Sex education should be developed, as should prevention and rehabilitation measures for drug abuse. The increased amount of underage drinking should also be recognised.

Ms Sarah Kelleher, director of LYCS, which runs a youth programme in the area, said: "Our experience tells us young people want to get involved if given appropriate support and opportunity. This report has set the challenge to those funding and providing services to teenagers."