A survey of more than 13,500 Irish children, aged eight to 17, found a drop in reported levels of smoking and drunkenness, but an increase in the number of older children who say they’ve had sex.
Occasions of smoking and drunkenness dropped between 2014 and the last study conducted by the Irish Health Promotion Research Centre in 2010, while the number of students saying they had never consumed alcohol increased, irishtimes.com reported.
Smoking, alcohol use and cannabis use were more commonly reported among boys and older children. In 2010, a total of 28 percent children said they had smoked, last year that figure fell to 16 percent.
The numbers describing themselves as current smokers fell from 12 percent to 8 percent. However, a third of 12-17-year-olds said it was easy to buy cigarettes. Nearly two-thirds said it was easy to get someone else to buy them.
Children aged between 15 and 17 years were asked about sex as part of the survey. Some 27 percent said they have had sex, up from 23 percent. More boys than girls said they had had sex, 31 percent compared to 21 percent.
Of those who reported having sex, one third said they used the birth control pill as a form of contraception when last having intercourse, and almost three quarters said they used condoms.
According to the study, reported levels of fruit and vegetable consumption increased and consumption of sweets and soft drinks decreased from 2010.
The number of children eating fruit once a day rose from 20 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2014. Similarly the numbers eating vegetables daily rose from 20 percent to 22 percent.
Meanwhile, sweets are less favoured than in the past with the number eating them every day falling 10 points to 27 percent from 37 percent in 2010.
The number consuming a soft drink every day also fell from 21 percent in 2010 to 13 percent last year.