Phase 2 of Growing Up in Ireland Study Launched

Posted on: 09 June 2015

The second phase of Growing Up in Ireland: The National Longitudinal Study of Children was recently launched by Dr James Reilly, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs. The study, which is being conducted by a consortium of researchers led by Trinity College Dublin and the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI), has been monitoring the development of almost 20,000 children and young people at various ages since 2007.

The second phase of the study will further contribute to evidence-informed policy development, building on the very substantial body of knowledge already recorded in the first wave of the project. Interviews will take place from 2015-2019 with children and young people at 9 years, 17 years and 20 years of age. Summary details will also be collected by post from the main caregivers of 7-year-olds in the study.

A huge range of reports, papers and other publications have been produced from the first phase, including on topics as diverse as: the composition and structure of families in Ireland and the role families play in the emotional development of children; special educational needs (SEN); the effects of the multi-grade system in schools on academic performance; overweight and obesity; breastfeeding; inequalities in child health; paediatric chronic illness; bullying and its effects; economic vulnerability and its effects on child development; integration of children not born in Ireland and maternal health.

In the course of this second phase of the study hundreds of topics will be addressed in the main areas of the lives of children and young people.  These will include details on their physical health and development, socio-emotional health and behavior, educational development and school performance and economic and civic participation.

As the 17-year-olds in the older child cohort move into adulthood some new and very challenging topics not previously recorded in the study will assume importance for them.  These include:

  • the stresses facing young people, including mental health issues, depression, anxiety and self-harm
  • their sense of identity, self-esteem and self-efficacy
  • sexuality; sexual behaviour and sexual health
  • risky behaviours such as alcohol and non-prescribed drug-taking
  • the extent to which the education system has prepared them for adult life
  • their engagement with society, the political system and the institutions of state, as well as their beliefs and values.

Although some of this information is highly sensitive, it is essential to understand the issues involved in order to put in place the appropriate supports and assistance which some young people may need at this often turbulent phase of their development.

The overall aim of Growing Up in Ireland is ‘to study the factors, which contribute to or undermine the well-being of children in contemporary Irish families, and, through this, contribute to the setting of effective and responsive policies relating to children and to the design of services for children and their families’.  A total of five waves of data collection have been completed under the first phase of the Study between 2006 and 2014 (for the Infant Cohort at 9 months, 3 years and 5 years and for the Child Cohort at 9 years and 13 years).

All the information collected in the Growing Up in Ireland study is being used by the government to assist in developing policy and supports around children, young people and their families.  The results from phase one of the study featured strongly in the government’s strategy for children and young people Better Outcomes, Brighter Futures, the national policy framework for children and young people, which was published in April 2014.

Speaking at the launch event the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr James Reilly, said: ‘Growing Up in Ireland is one of the most important strategic investments in data and research ever undertaken on children’s lives in an Irish context. The data available in the Growing Up in Ireland study provides an important source of information to improve our understanding of children’s lives and establishes a strong and growing evidence-base to support effective future policy. I welcome the continuation of this important Study, and strongly advocate the use of the findings to advance better policy in support of children and their families’