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Access to services key for young people

Access to services key for young people

A report on the health and well being of New Zealand secondary school students highlights many positives for young New Zealanders, in particular that most students report that they are happy with their family relationships and their parents care about them a lot.

While caring and connected relationships with parents and other adults are predictors of good outcomes for young people, the Youth 2007 research undertaken by the University of Auckland Adolescent Health Research Group indicates that there is still work to be done to ensure young people have access to appropriate and confidential health services.

Commenting on the release of the Youth 2007 report, Family Planning Chief Executive Jackie Edmond says private and confidential health care services are important indicators of quality health care for young people.

“We are concerned with figures showing 20 per cent of female students have been unable to access health care in the last 12 months. Some 14 per cent of male students have also been unable to access health care,” Ms Edmond says

“We are pleased that these figures indicate that most young people are able to access appropriate services, but Family Planning will continue to advocate for the removal of any barriers which prevent young people accessing services – cost, geography or concern about confidentiality. We know that young people who access services, who are assured of confidentiality, who get quality information and services, make better decisions about all aspects of their lives,” Ms Edmond says.

Family Planning is also encouraged by figures showing that most secondary school students had never had sexual intercourse – with 38 per cent of male students and 35 per cent of female students reporting ever having had sex.

“Encouraging young people to delay becoming sexually active is a key component of our health promotion and sexuality education work and is reflected in campaigns such as Only When You’re Ready, a delay campaign aimed at teenage girls,”Ms Edmond says.

“We are also encouraged at the reported levels of contraceptive use among sexually active students. However, like the report authors we are concerned that there continues to be a small number of students engaging in risky sexual health behaviours, in particular when linked with alcohol use.”

The report makes a link between alcohol and risky sexual behaviour with 14 per cent of students saying they had had unsafe sex after drinking and seven per cent reporting unwanted sex.

“Our clinicians are reporting an increasing number of young women presenting at clinics for assistance after drinking. Family Planning will continue to support programmes that reduce alcohol consumption, encourage young people to look after their friends and highlight the potential impacts of alcohol-induced sexual activity,” Ms Edmond says.

Family Planning says the information from the Youth 2007 report, which updates and expands on the 2001 survey, builds on the body of knowledge that exists among services working with for young people.

“These reports must be living and breathing documents for everyone working with young New Zealanders - to help ensure equity of access and service and equip young people to become healthy participating adults,” Ms Edmond says.

ENDS


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