Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection
Social, Personal and Health Education Curriculum: Discussion with Comhairle na nÓg
I thank the representatives from Comhairle na nÓg for their presentation. They are all under the age of 18. There is hope for this country when a panel of bright young people can address an Oireachtas committee. It is certainly not easy to make presentations and it took us a long time to be able to speak publicly. I know exactly what they are going through.
I agree with Senator Power on the importance of the sex education programme. I am disappointed to hear that some teachers are unable to deliver the programme. I presume it is a sensitive subject for people
My son is a GP and he recently opened a practice in Killarney. He offered consultations to secondary students for €25 because he knows people are becoming sexually active at that stage and need to discuss matters with medical professionals. This initiative has been very successful. Perhaps GPs around the country could try similar initiatives. He has also seen a number of female patients who do not seem to find it a barrier to speak to a man. GPs might consider offering a supplementary service to that provided by teachers.
Youth mental health is an important issue. A Jigsaw pilot programme in County Kerry is now closed but I am glad to note that it is reopening in January. Like Senator Power, unfortunately I will have to leave the meeting shortly to discuss similar matters. Youth suicide rates in County Kerry are 50% above the national average. Many of the individuals involved were very young. After a suicide occurs there are often comments on Facebook about the individual concerned. There is a danger of glorifying suicide by describing the deceased as a great boy or girl. Do the witnesses think it morbid that people would leave messages for someone who died in tragic circumstances?