The rate of binge drinking amongst 15-24 year olds has halved in the last six years, but the percentage with probable mental health problems has doubled during the same time period.
The percentage of 11-17 year olds who reported being bullied in school increased from 24% in 2010 to 31% by 2018, while at the same time the percentage engaging in optimum physical activity decreased from 24% to 22%.
Almost all three-year-olds in Ireland now attend pre-primary education, having jumped from 46% in 2013 to 98% in 2018, while the percentage of students staying in post-primary education to complete their Leaving Cert increased to 92% for the 2014 cohort.
These are just some of the findings of the final annual report into the progress of Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures 2014-2020, the national policy framework for children and young people.
Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, published the annual report, along with an Indicator Set which tracks the government’s progress in improving the lives of children and young people.
Youth mental health was highlighted as an area of concern in the report, as the percentage of 15-24 year olds displaying optimal levels of mental health has decreased from 21% in 2015 to 12% in 2021, and the percentage with probable mental health problems has increased from 10% to 20% during this time.
In terms of physical health, the rate of binge drinking amongst 15-24-year-olds decreased from 58% in 2015 to 31% in 2021, while 70% of 11-17-year-olds said they had never consumed alcohol in 2018, up from 52% in 2010. The percentage of young people smoking has also decreased.
The percentage of children living in jobless households decreased from 16% in 2014 to 11% in 2020, and the percentage of 0-14-year-olds and 15-24-year-olds experiencing consistent poverty was 8% and 6% respectively in 2020, both down from 2014 baselines of 10.5% and 13.4% respectively.
The percentage of open cases awaiting the allocation of a social worker decreased, from 31% in 2014 to 20% in 2020.
“When launched in April 2014, Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures was the first overarching national policy framework for children and young people aged from birth to 24 years. It represented a fundamental change in the way we view children and young people and set out a mandate and agenda for transforming how we work as a collective to meet their needs and aspirations,” said Minister O’Gorman.
“The Annual Report, alongside the Indicators, demonstrate that we have made very strong progress in this regard and I am committed to further strengthening and sustaining our efforts, building on achievements and addressing some of the enduring problems that adversely impact the lives of children and young people,” he added.