Interviews with Sexual Health Professionals

Overview

  • Interviews for Febuary 16th
  • Overall Project deadline is march 6th

Interviewees

Hilary Hoey

  • Professor of Paediatrics TCD
  • hhoey@tcd.ie – Emailed 18th January
  • no reply as yet – Shiela Green Recommended
  • unable to get an interview – on sabbatical

Anne O Donnell

  • Suggested – Director of national childrens office – used to work in dublin rape crisis center
  • Office no – 01 242 0006

Caroline Hunter

  • Dr Brook Clinic Belfast – family planning / sexual information for young people
  • Responded positively to Chiara and Conor’s letter
  • Phoned – Secretary advised email – carolinemhunter@aol.com
  • Mailed – Thursday 19th
  • 291 North Street, Belfast BT1 1NA, Northern Ireland, 00 44 28 9032 8866
    • Interview confirmed – At her home in Hillsborough
  • Appointment – Wednesday 8th February, 3pm, Hillsborough N.I

Paula Mayock

  • Childrens Research Center TCD
  • emailed 18th January – Shiela Green recommended
  • pmayock@tcd.ie – 01 6082636
  • Appointment – Friday 10th Febrary 11am, Childrens Center, Dame St

Shay Caffrey

  • caffresp@tcd.ie
  • Gave consent: to one of the girls face to face
  • emailed 12/01/06
  • Appointment – Thursday 2nd Feb, his office bottom floor aras on phairsaig, 3pm

Sheila Green

  • Head of Children Center
  • sgreen@tcd.ie
  • Gave consent: To chiara and lois is october
  • Contacted secretary by phone
  • Appointment – Wednesday 25th January – 2.30pm, Enter through Foster Place
  • Interview completed – Brendan to transcribe for Monday 30th Jan

Ivana Bacick

  • Responded positively to formal letter
  • Awaiting interview questions email
  • Ivana Bacik – icbacik@tcd.ie
  • Mailed the interview in advance, as well as a description of the project
  • Appointment confirmed
  • Appointment – Friday 27th January 1.00pm, House 39

Letter for Interviewee’s

To whom it may concern:

 

We are at present conducting a consultative study of sexuality among young Irish adults and the community based educational/health services available to them. This research is being carried out under the direct supervision of Prof. Ray Fuller, Dr. Nick McDonald & Dr. Siobhan Corrigan of the School of Psychology – Trinity College, Dublin.

The approach to the study is multi-focal in nature with a research emphasis on social, heath & education policy, psychological/physiological development, & cultural influences. As part of our research we are particularly interested in gathering professional/academic perspectives on the above-mentioned areas of focus.

We propose to do this by way of conducting interviews with considered experts in each particular field, in conjunction with other modes of inquiry. As a respected professional/academic we feel that your participation would contribute substantially to this Third Year Group Project and we would greatly appreciate the opportunity to gain your perspective(s) on the research topics relevant to yourself.

We propose to conduct these interviews in the period Jan-March, 2006) and we will contact you in advance to arrange a time for an interview (if possible).

We thank you in advance for your time and cooperation.

Interview Questions

Interview with Dr. Ivana Bacik (proposed)

Our project aims to conduct a preparatory study of sexual behaviour and attitudes in adolescence, in order to analyse the relationships between knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.

 

1 Currently in Ireland, of consent for both males and females, whether heterosexual or homosexual is seventeen (Department of Health and Children, 1999) However, according to interpretation of the Attorney General, the age of consent is seventeen for females and fifteen for males. Therefore, intercourse with a girl under seventeen is an offence and carries a sentence of five years imprisonment for a first offence and ten years for subsequent offences. Recently, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law reform, Michael Mc Dowell has considered reducing the age of consent from seventeen to fifteen, following a case where a nineteen year old man received an eleven month suspended sentence and a fine for the statutory rape of his fifteen year old girlfriend, with whom the man lived and had a child (National Youth Council of Ireland, 2005). Comparatively in England, Scotland and Wales it is legal for both males and females to engage in sexual intercourse at the age of sixteen, while in Northern Ireland one must be seventeen (Brook, 2005). i. Do you agree with the status of age of consent as an offensive of strict liability under Irish law? ii. Do you agree with the current penalties facing adolescents who engage in sexual intercourse before the age of consent? iii. What changes could or should be made in the age of consent and the treatment of such offences?

 

2 The age of consent is established by law, but this doesn’t stop adolescents below this age engaging in sexual activities. This creates ethical and educational difficulties. E.G.: How can educators or family members teach their children to be sexually responsible if they are not allowed access to contraception? i. What are the current legal constraints on the availability of contraception to adolescents? ii. At what age do you think adolescents should gain access to information about contraception and be allowed to buy contraceptives?

3 Abortion is a hugely contentious issue in Ireland. i. As a legal expert, what evolution have you observed in attitudes to and legal facilitation or prevention of termination in Ireland in recent years?

4 Minister for Justice Michael McDowell has signaled that the Government intends to introduce legislation next year which would provide for civil partnership in the Republic. i. Can you briefly outline the current differences in the treatment of hetrosexual and homosexual relationships under Irish law, particularly in reference to the age of consent, the changes since the 1993 legalization of homosexual sex and the likely future changes in both legislation and prosecution of offences?

5 Broadly, do you think that Irish society has changed its attitudes toward sexuality, if yes, in what ways?

Interview with Dr. Shay Caffrey

Our project aims to conduct a preparatory study of sexual behaviour and attitudes in adolescence, in order to analyse the relationships between knowledge, attitudes and behaviours..
1 We know that adolescence is a multifaceted process, characterised by a huge number of biological and psychosocial changes. In your opinion what role does the onset of puberty play in the psychological development of every adolescent?

2 Could you briefly describe the role that first sexual experiences have on the psychological development of adolescents?

3 Do you think that there is a “correct” of “functional” age to engage in sexual activity? Is there an age or stage of psychological maturity that should be reached before sexual activity becomes psychologically healthy?

4 In this moment the actual age of consent in Ireland for sexual activity is 15 for boys and 17 for girls; do you agree with this age, or believe it should be changed?

5 Research has confirmed that the age of the onset of puberty has decreased in recent decades (DeMunich & Mul, 2001). As a professional have you noted this change whilst working with children and adolescents?

6 Do you think that the early onset of puberty has on effect on psychological maturity, identity, self and one’s sexuality?

7 Do you believe there has been a change in sexual behaviour in young Irish adults in the last few decades? If yes, do you think that this is related to the earlier onset of puberty?

8 Martinson demonstrated that children engage in a variety of sexual behaviours as they develop physically and psychologically. Lamb et al. discovered that masturbation is common in children by the age of 5 as are other kinds of sexual play such as genital fondling, oral-genital contact, insertion of objects in the genitals or attempts at sexual intercourse. (Lamb, et al., 1993). Nevertheless any kind of sexual activity in children is considered a taboo in western society, in particular for girls. Can you try to explain which social and psychosocial aspects are responsible for this general attitude?

9 At what age does masturbation stop in childhood and for what reason? Social-educational, or psychological-physiological?

10 Which kind of motivations do you think are involved in the decision of a young adolescent to have his/her first sexual experience?

11 In a recent study (Quinlan, 2003) on a sample of 10,847 women a significant correlation was found between parental divorce / separation in the first five years of a girls life and early menarche, early age of first sexual intercourse, early age of first pregnancy and shorter than average duration of marriage – irrespective of social–economic variables or maternal sexual behavior. What is your opinion on this issue? Do you think that the correllation cited represents a real phenomena? If yes, which do you think explains this developmental phenomena?

12 Recently, attachment theories have been applied to the study of childhood and adolescent deviant sexual behaviour (Creeden, 2004). Do you agree with the application of this model to such behaviour?

13 Which do you think are the motivations that lead people to engage in impulsive risk taking sexual behaviours such as unprotected sex, or promiscuity? Do you think such behaviours can be related to ambivalent attachment or a harsh repressive education?

14 Concluding the interview. The aim of our study is to create a realistic picture of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of young adolescents in Ireland; by directly surveying this population and asking the opinions of professionals who work in a variety of ways with young adults. Do you personally believe that we will find a certain level of coherency between these two sources of information? Do contemporary professionals have a realistic and holistic view of the sensitive topic of sexuality?

Interview with Professor Sheila Green

Our project aims to conduct a preparatory study of sexual behaviour and attitudes in adolescence, in order to analyse the relationships between knowledge, attitudes and behaviours.
1 We know that adolescence is a multifaceted process, characterised by a huge number of biological and psychosocial changes. In your opinion what role does the onset of puberty play in the psychological development of every adolescent?

2 Would you be able to briefly describe the role that first sexual experiences have on the psychological development of adolescents?

3 As a developmental psychologist, do you think that there is a “correct” of “functional” age to engage in sexual activity? Is there an age or stage of psychological maturity that has to be reached before an active sexual life becomes psychologically healthy?

4 Currently the age of consent in Ireland for sexual activity is 15 for boys and 17 for girls; do you agree with this age or do you think it should be changed?

5 The age of consent is established by law, but this doesn’t stop adolescents below this age engaging in sexual activities. This creates ethical and educational difficulties. How can educators or family members teach their children to be sexually responsible if they are not allowed access to contraception? At what age do you think adolescents should gain access to information about contraception and be allowed to buy contraceptives?

6 Research has confirmed that the age of the onset of puberty has decreased in recent decades (DeMunich & Mul, 2001). As a professional have you noted this change whilst working with children and adolescents?

7 Do you think that the early onset of puberty has on effect on psychological maturity, identity, self and one’s sexuality?

8 Do you believe there has been a change in sexual behaviour in young Irish adults in the last few decades? If yes, do you think that this is related to the earlier onset of puberty?

9 Everyone working with children and young adults now recognizes the importance of investing in developing effective sexual education. To be effective, what information should be provided to young people and at what ages? Which agency / educational institution can most effectively delivered this information?

10 What tactic should public health campaigns aimed at young people take (e.g.: emphasis on risk, emphasis on positive role modelling)?

11 Scott-Jones and White (1990) demonstrated that even when adolescents possess sexual knowledge this may not directly influence their behaviour, hense it is essential is to also analyse the attitudes young people hold. Do you agree? Which other elements do you consider essential to have a deep insight into adolescent sexuality?

12 Do you personally think that this generation of adolescents and young adults exhibit different sexualities and sexual behaviours to past generations? If so, what has caused this change?

13 In your personal experience, are contemporary adolescents and young adults more comfortable talking about their sexuality with peers, adults and professionals than in the past?

14 Do you think that the society has changed its attitudes toward sexuality, if yes, in what ways?

15 Concluding the interview. The aim of our study is to create a realistic picture of the knowledge, attitudes and behaviour of young adolescents in Ireland; by directly surveying this population and asking the opinions of professionals who work in a variety of ways with young adults. Do you personally believe that we will find a certain level of coherency between these two sources of information? Do contemporary professionals have a realistic and holistic view of the sensitive topic of sexuality?

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