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close this bookMezzo: For Young People by Young People (IPPF, 1997, 52 p.)
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View the documentIrish coffee talk. Irish young people discuss some big questions
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Irish coffee talk. Irish young people discuss some big questions

Extracts from a group discussion in Ireland


MARIE: When do you consider someone to be a friend?

EMMA: Well, there is no rule - like you did this and this for me - therefore you are my friend.

FEARGAL: No, there are people who you go out with and get drunk with, but you never talk to, and never tell them anything you really care about.

AINE: If you're friends, there shouldn't be any set rules that make you feel you have to act in a certain way around them.

MARIE: It's when you are completely and utterly relaxed and you feel you don't have to prove anything any single day.

EMMA: Isn't that just with your closest friends?

MARIE: But that is a friend. Someone you can rely on. It's not a case of 'if you do something for me I'll do something for you'.

RUARRI: What about your friendships with guys? Are they any different?

EMMA: When I got to college, it was a big shock. It was 'oh my god, there is man!'

MARIE: It wasn't 'oh my god, there are all these guys'. It was more that it was just different to what we were used to.

EMMA: I still found it very hard to adjust to it, because it's okay making friends with a girl. I find it easier to make friends with girls because of my background. All I did for six years was have friends who were girls. Then when I got to college there were guys there. I found I was shy. Initially I found it difficult making friends with guys. But this year it has been easier to make friends.

AINE: People bring different things into a friendship. A friendship between a girl and a boy is so different from a friendship between a girl and a girl or even a boy and a boy.

Talking to adults

FEARGAL: How do you feel about approaching adults in general?

MARIE: It depends on their attitude. There are some people I wouldn't approach.

RUARRI: There are some I wouldn't approach but there are some I would. It depends on your relationship.

AINE: I feel they are on this kind of superiority thing. That's what it feels like.

MARIE: How do you feel in general, are you intimidated easily by adult people?

RUARRI: If I had a problem I would be much happier going to my friends.

AINE: I don't think they want you to grow up. There's a feeling they won't approve of it.

EMMA: I guess my parents were for the more moral Catholic side. Don't have sex before marriage and that kind of thing.

FEARGAL: But you were all told about the birds and the bees...

MARIE: Very vaguely.

AINE: I don't think I was sat down, but I think I was told gradually bit by bit. Every time my question came up it was answered.

EMMA: I don't remember not knowing about it. But I do remember wondering about it.


FEARGAL: What do you think of young people getting married while they are still young? Take two people who have been going out for two/three years and they have decided to get married, they are in their 20s and both at college. Is it a mistake for them to get married? Would it be a waste?

EMMA: Maybe they should wait.

MARIE: They have the rest of their lives together to get married.

RUARRI: I can't see the reason, They could move in without having to get married.

MARIE: What do you think of people living together anyway?

FEARGAL: I don't know, as long as it's not straight into it.

RUARRI: Morally I don't think it is right or wrong but individually it might be wrong for the person.

FEARGAL: I think the obvious issue here is they are sleeping together, which is what it boils down to, and they are not only sleeping together some of the time but the potential is there all the time and she get pregnant.


AINE: How would you feel if one of your friends had an abortion?

EMMA: It would depend on what the situation was- But if it was just a form of contraception I would be angry with them. Maybe I would try to understand why they did it, as I am sure that no woman really wants to live with that.

RUARRI: I probably wouldn't be angry or anything because it is a very distressing thing to go through.

AINE: You don't need people jumping down your throat with their moral views.

RUARRI: They are going to be in some sort of state afterwards.

MARIE: You know, when there are other options available, it is hard to see abortion as the answer.

RUARRI: If they came for advice that would be different.

AINE: I would listen first.

Ruarri (M), Emma (F), Feargal (M), Aine (F) and Marie (F) are all 19.


MARIE: Do you think if a woman who got raped, it could ever have been her own fault?

FEARGAL: Ever? No.

MARIE: No matter what she was wearing.


AINE: Nobody is going to ask somebody to rape them. Whatever you were wearing.

FEARGAL: Okay, the girl... for example, walks around the wrong area of town... on her own, half drunk, do you not think that is very foolish?

RUARRI: Yes, foolish. But she is not asking for it.

FEARGAL: You don't run out in front of a truck. It is not an ideal world and no one is blaming the woman for being raped. No one would wish that on anyone.

RUARRI: If you are walking around in the wrong part of town, half drunk, then you are asking to be mugged. Not asking, but you are foolish still.

MARIE: Is there such a thing as date rape?

FEARGAL: Yes, oh yes there is. And it is wrong.

EMMA: Do you think that a girl is asking for it if she goes on a date with a guy and wears a short skirt and goes back to Ms place for coffee? Is that necessarily asking for it?

FEARGAL: No, if she says no, and he rapes her, then it is rape and should be treated as such.

Sex before marriage, pregnancy & parenthood

RUARRI: Why do you think that people have sex before marriage?

MARIE: It could be a big let down... if you wait till you are married.

RUARRI: That's true. Ifs a part of life. Not necessarily a big part.

FEARGAL: Curiosity. Get it over and done with.

MARIE: It is not like the big unknown.

EMMA: If you got a girl pregnant?

FEARGAL: I would make damn sure I am the father.

EMMA: Would you many her?

FEARGAL: I would wait a while. I wouldn't marry her straight away, but I would consider it...

RUARRI: The only reason for marriage is for love.

AINE: We have a friend and she has a baby and she is now engaged. She had the baby... it is really strange because you wonder if that's the reason they are together. Because a couple of months before she got pregnant we were talking about relationships. Then a couple of months later she says she is having a baby. They are a family now. It is so strange. First friend that's pregnant, While the rest of us are still growing up.

MARIE: I am not doubting the relationship. It must be very difficult as you are expected to be a family unit, and if you have any sort of problems you can't just walk away. She is only 19 or 20. Like she can't walk away, which she should be able to do. Like she is there. Very permanent. No choice. If the relationship breaks down they can't walk away from it as simply as we could.

For Health Professionals

How to treat us young people:

· Be confidential with us
· Provide us with the information and services we need
· Accept us as we are, do not moralize or demoralize us
· Use language or means we understand
· Ask and respect our opinions about the services
· Allow us to decide for ourselves
· Make us feel welcome and comfortable
· Don't judge us
· Provide services at the time and within the time frame we have available