Irish Times, by Steven Carroll
YOUNG PEOPLE living in Ireland have problems engaging and participating in society because they feel they are regarded as a secondary force by adults, the founder of a national youth website has said.
Ruairi McKiernan, of spunout. ie, said youngsters visiting the website say they are tired of being negatively stigmatised and that they want to be listened to and to get involved in what is happening in their lives, be it at home, in class, locally or nationally.
"Young people do not like being dismissed as only being interested in sex, drinking or drugs. Fair enough, the issues exist but we would say adults also need to ask themselves some questions as to what are their responsibilities around that," he said.
Mr McKiernan said spunout.ie was founded to inform, empower and inspire young people and help them deal with the pressures and problems they face in life.
He said the website had three years of evidence on which to base the information it provided, and that some 250,000 young people had used the service since its inception.
Mr McKiernan was speaking as some 80 spunout.ie volunteers took to Dublin's Grafton Street yesterday offering hugs and advice in an attempt to promote positive mental health among young people.
They were joined by broadcaster Ray D'Arcy and Google employees in what was said to be Ireland's biggest ever "free hugs" event. The event was designed to create awareness of spunout.ie.
Mr D'Arcy said it was important to create awareness of mental health issues as Ireland's suicide rate was alarmingly high but little was known about the issue.
He said young people today were under different pressures than past generations and that the internet had proved an excellent way for them to openly engage with their problems.
"Whether it's a crisis pregnancy, anorexia or someone grappling with their sexuality, there is helpful information or somebody they can talk to on spunout.ie."
A selection of Ruairí's articles published in the Irish Times, the Irish Independent, the Sunday Times, the Huffington Post, and other publications.