Inner City youth survey shocks
BY MICHAEL PIERSE
Dublin Central councillor Nicky Kehoe has called for ``an extensive, studied and well-funded youth policy'' in Dublin's North Inner City, following the launch of a shock report on the lives of young people living in the area.
The report, entitled `Report on the needs of teenagers in the North Inner City of Dublin', was launched last week by Lourdes Youth and Community Services, which operates an extensive youth programme in the area. Questioning 17 per cent of the local teenage population, it paints, according to Kehoe, ``a depressing picture of inner city youth and the pervasiveness amongst them of poor education, limited employment prospects, high drug use and early sexual activity''.
According to the report, 88 per cent of those who were old enough left school before completing the Leaving Certificate, with 52 per cent leaving without even a Junior Cert. A staggering 60 per cent have been suspended from school at some time. 63 per cent have some income through low skilled, low paid jobs, training allowances or social welfare, while a further 26 per cent are not involved in any employment, training or education at all. Disturbingly, 46 per cent are involved with the courts, probation, police or statutory agencies, and 42 per cent use illegal drugs. 82 per cent drink alcohol, some as young as 14 years of age.
With 71 per cent of the area's young people sexually active by the age of 16 years, with 30 per cent engaging in unprotected sex, there also tends to be a high level of teenage pregnancies and single parent families in the area.
``The report highlights the disturbing extent of social alienation and disadvantage that are sowing the seeds of further poverty, a lack of achievement, drug addiction and anti-social behaviour in the lives of our young people,'' said Kehoe. ``It's a seemingly perpetual cycle of degeneration and destruction.
``Let there be no doubt about why this is happening - parts of the Inner City have been made into no-go areas, ghettos, by people in power who just don't give a damn. It won't be easy to break the cycle they have created through their abandonment of inner city people. It will require a lot of money, interest and painstaking work.''
The report also set forth a series of recommendations to turn back the tide of disadvantage in the area:
A particular focus should be placed on those at greatest risk: ``those out of work and not involved,'' it states.
Committed, adequate funding is needed to positively engage the older teenager group.
The establishment of an Education Task Force should be a priority, to tackle high drop-out rates.
Further development of appropriate employment training opportunities for early school leavers is needed. This needs to be backed up by committed career development support from employers.
There has to be a continuing emphasis on alcohol/drugs prevention, education and rehabilitation.
Sex education must be developed, with the particular aim of reducing teenage pregnancies.
There needs to be better communication and co-ordination between youth services and statutory agencies in the area.