Most teens ‘hang around’ for recreation

JUST one-in-20 teenagers says there are proper facilities for young people in their area and, for over 80%, “hanging around” is the main recreation activity, a survey has found.

The findings among 702 youngsters in five east Cork towns reflect the frustration faced by their peers around the country and highlight a need for major investment in youth facilities.

Over 80% of those surveyed identified “hanging around” as one of their recreational activities, with more than one-third doing so in town streets.

A further one-in-four said they meet their friends in shopping centres or fast food outlets, one-in-six hang out at friend’s homes and just 10% in sports’ facilities.

The survey by East Cork Area Development (ECAD), supported by the Health Service Executive, spoke with students at second-level schools in Carrig-twohill, Cobh, Glanmire, Midleton and Youghal.

Asked if there were adequate facilities for young people in their town, only 5% said yes. Many Midleton teenagers said the town has nothing for young people except a pool hall, while many referred to fields and corners as the only places to hang out.

“There is only one place to go and that’s the pool hall, most people who go out just go drinking as there is nowhere else to go,” a Midleton teen said.

Drinking was referred to by those in most of the 12 schools and a number of youth projects in the region which took part, although just 6% admitted to drinking alcohol regularly. The report highlights constant references to boredom as a reason for drinking. In Cobh, where 90% say they just hang around, just one of 86 students goes to the cinema regularly against a third of Midleton students.

The report’s author Mary McGrath, a community consultant with ECAD, said young people were emphatic in their belief that they do not have adequate facilities.

“They were not negative or bleak but were concerned about the difficulties and dangers they face. The findings point to the need for young people somewhere safe, warm and alcohol-free where they could socialise,” she said.

Recreational centres like youth cafes, cinemas, pool halls and restaurants were the facilities needed most, followed by swimming pools all-weather pitches, with night-time activities such as discos and music gigs, more sports clubs to join or lessons in dance, drama and music also sought.

The report, Where Do You Go When You Go Out? will be launched by Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan in Midleton this afternoon. Ms McGrath and co-author Deborah Lynch, a lecturer in social studies at UCC, recommend urgent action locally and at national policy level to meet young people’s needs for recreational facilities.

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