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4/6/2012 - Portugal – Young people: the profile of a promising generation

So that the situation of young people in Portugal can be better understood we are publishing a report of an enquiry conducted in  2010.

In Portugal 25% of the population is under 25 years of age: 14.9% under 14  and 10.8% between 15 and 24. However, between 2001 and 2011, there was a fall in the number of young people: those under 14 by 5.1% and those between 15 and 24 by 22.5%.

Young peoples’ relationship with school
In 2010 in Portugal there were 2,406,098 children and young  people in the school system ( 22.62% of the population). They would seem to have a positive view of school and were happy to be involved. More than three quarters of the students liked school (76.5%); and 84.6% said they never missed lessons.
Regarding their future too they appeared positive. The majority of pupils  (63.5%) had a plan for their lives including continuing their studies at university.
They also like belonging to groups. At 15 years of age 81% of the young people see the group as the place  for help and collaboration.
However they do not have a high estimate of their own scholastic ability. Only 46.4% consider themselves good or very good students which puts Portugal in the next to last place  for scholastic self-esteem. Portugal is also the second in the list of countries in the world where young people say they are overloaded with school work (65.5%).

Young people and free-time
The results of an enquiry into young peoples’ use of free time are as follows:
• 62% watch television everyday and 65.5% for two or more hours each day;
• 34% go out with their families or friends once or twice a week;
• 47.8% listen to the radio every day and 67% listen to music every day;
• 30.6% read newspapers or magazines once or twice a week;
• 28.7% read books less than once a week;
• 37% go to bars, restaurants or discoteques  once or twice a week;
• 56.5% go to the cinema less than once a week;
• 42.6% go to the theatre, opera or concerts less than once a week and 38.9% have never been;
• 48.8% visit museums or go to listen to talks less than once a week and 40.3% have never been;
• 31.2% do housework or school homework once or twice a week and 14.9% every day;
• 23.8% play computer games or use play-stations once or twice a week  and  20.4% every day;
• 64.6% say they talk with their families every day;
• 34.1% take part in some sport or physical  activity once or twice a week 7.7% have never done so;
• 48.2% say they go to church or some other place of worship;
• 29.9% say they follow some “hobby” once or twice a week  and 22.8% do so every day;
• 54.7% use Internet every day, 30.6% of whom for more than three hours a day;
• 31.3% say they take part in other activities.
The figures regarding the use of the Internet need to be looked at more closely, because, once they begin to use it, 50.6% of the young people say they give less time to their families and friends, 43.9% read fewer magazines and periodicals  and  42.6% fewer books. In their use of the Internet, forms of communication are notable, such as instant messaging (29.9% every day;  16.1% from three to six times a week), chat ( 29.3% every day,  13.5% between three and six times a week), sending and receiving e -mails (25.5% every day, 16.3% between three and six times a week) and taking pert in social networks (19.7% every day, 19.2% between three and six times a week).

The main problem areas for young people
The precocious consumption of drugs is one of the main problems throughout the world. Information from Portugal shows that in 2010 there was a fall in the consumption of tobacco and alcohol by young people; about 88% of them do not smoke and since 1998 the daily consumption of alcoholic drinks has fallen 1.00% to 0.3%. Information with regard to  “experimenting” with hashish, however shows an increase: 8.8% of young people say they have experimented with it. Asked about their use of drugs, of those interviewed 93.4% say they have never done so
Violence in schools is also one of the main problem areas for young people, even though the figures indicate a fall in the phenomenon. In 2010 more than half the young people had never be threatened at school (63.4%); whereas about two thirds of them had not been involved in fights in the previous two months (68.2%). With regard to bullying, among youngsters between 11 and 15 years of age between 10% and 14% said they had experienced it
Obesity is a growing phenomenon in recent years. At 13 years of age 22% of boys and 13% of girls are overweight: this is the fourth highest figure in the world.
Finally with regard to the figures relating to children and adolescents  at risk. In 2010 it was reported that 68,500 children and adolescents were in situations at risk and on this account were being accompanied/receiving support. In the great majority of cases it was possible to indentify the situations which had led to this. The  main ones are: neglect (38.2%); exposure to deviant behaviour (17.5%); dropping out of school (13.3%); psychological ill-treatment or emotional abuse (13%); physical ill-treatment (7.1%). Another serious problem facing the older young people (between 15 and 24 years of age) is unemployment (36.2%).

Young people and religion
The figures indicate a positive correlation between religion and personal well-being, since religious practice is one of the main elements in living in safety. In Portugal 86.8% of the population say that they belong to a religion; of these 96.7% say they are Catholics. Up to 35 years of age 72.5% of men and 82.9% of women feel they are part of a religious group; of these about 21% take part in a religious service at least once a month, while about 35% say they pray every day or at least several times in the week.

Helping the young to grow up: a promising generation
In present day society it is essential that by paying attention to the well-being and to their personal development young people are helped to grow up. This needs to be done: in the family by involving the parents more in the lives of their children; among their contemporaries by providing opportunities for their emotional and affective development in their interpersonal relationships; at school, giving them opportunities to become involved; and with each of them individually by helping them to acquire spiritual values bringing together the love of God and love for their neighbours.

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