Teenage Kix

Programme 1 – Smoking
The fifth edition of the
Health Behaviour in School-Age Children in Ireland report shows a continuing drop in the number of Irish children smoking: since the initial report in the late nineties, each one has recorded a drop in the rate of smoking in 10-17 year olds – from 21.2% in 1998 to 11.9% in 2010 to 8% in 2014. However, while this is cause for celebration, it still means that one in ten of Irish children between the ages of 10 and 17 are smoking.

This programme will examine how prevalent smoking is amongst young people in Dundalk and what type of cigarettes they are smoking (including packets of cigarettes, rolled cigarettes and vaping). It will feature a role play focusing on peer pressure. Contributors will include representatives from the Dundalk Youth Centre (which provides a supportive environment for young people, who are encouraged to express themselves through creativity and the arts), who will give his views on the problem of young people smoking and a representative from the Irish Cancer Society, who will discuss ‘X-Hale’, their initiative which aims to prevent young people from taking up smoking. There will also be an in-studio panel of young people, to get their views on smoking. Finally, we will here from the local Gardai about how the trade in counterfeit (and thus cheap) cigarettes can tempt young people into taking up smoking.

Programme 2 – Alcohol Abuse
A recent European School Project on Alcohol and other Drugs (ESPAD) report on teenage behaviour across Europe showed that Irish teenagers will binge drink more than their European counterparts. Half of all 15-16 year olds surveyed in Ireland said they had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days, which is 7 per cent below the European average. But when asked how much they had drunk on their last drinking day, the survey showed that Irish teenagers drank significantly above the European norm (Irish teenagers consumed 6.7cl of pure alcohol and the EU norm was 5.1cl)

This documentary will feature interviews with the organisers of junior (under 18) discos, to gain an insight into their day to day dealings with this problem. It will also include a discussion with a representative from the North Eastern Region Drug and Alcohol Task Force and from the Cox’s Demesne Youth and Community Project. As with each programme, their will be a panel discussion involving young people, both those who drink alcohol and those who don’t.

Programme 3 – Drugs (Part 1)
This programme will be split into two parts as the content is so large. A recent report by irishhealth.com states that; ‘It is not known how many people abuse drugs in Ireland and, of these, how many are adolescents. Opiate addition is, perhaps, the best documented, as users are more likely to have a need to present themselves for treatment. Over 7,000 people have attended the Drug Treatment centre in Dublin since it was founded in 1980.

The first part of this programme will involve identifying the various types of illegal drugs being used by young people, included cannabis, cocaine and MDMA (ecstasy). Contributors will include representatives from organisations that are there to help tackle addiction such as the North Eastern Region Drug and representatives from the Alcohol Task Force and the Adolescent Addiction Service. An Garda Síochána have recently attempted to address this issue by patrolling the perimeter of local secondary schools to prevent drug dealers from targeting adolescents. We will have a representative from the Gardai to discuss the success of this initiatives. Finally we will have an in studio panel of young people, to get their views about the availability of drugs to young people and their awareness of the dangers of drug abuse.

Programme 4 – Drugs (Part 2)
The second programme on this issue will focus on the work of organisations trying to prevent the spread of drug abuse amongst teenagers. We will be examining school guidance and counselling programmes of various schools in Dundalk, as well as discussing their substance abuse policies. 

Contributors include representatives from the Positive Youth Education, a TY workshopthat works very closely with 1st Years to make them aware of the dangers of drug taking. Another contributor will be the local Youth Development Officer, who will talk about the problems being faced by him and his team with regards to drug abuse within local communities.

Documentary 5 – Legal Highs
In January of this year, Alex Ryan, 18, from Cork, died after reportedly snorting the drug ‘N-bomb’ (a legal high’ at a house party in Cork. Six young people were treated at hospital for taking the drug but Gardai believe Alex died because while the others swallowed this substance, he snorted it. N-Bombs (members of the NBOMe ‘family’ of drugs) are powerful hallucinogens, similar to LSD, which means they change the way you see objects and reality and often lead to hallucinations. The recent EU Drugs Markets Report 2016 emphasises the challenges Ireland is facing legislating for legal highs because new substances are being released faster than the government can ban them.

The drugs are quickly made and easily disposable. When a ban is put in place on a particular drug, manufacturers are able to quickly replace it with another substance which is similar in effect but different in its chemical make-up – making it technically legal. A 2014 European Commission Report ‘Young People and Drugs’ stated that Ireland is the most common user of these drugs – with over 20% of 15-24 year olds surveyed saying that they had used “legal highs” at some point. Although the government banned ‘Head Shops’ in 2011, reports suggest that legal highs are still available, although they have now been pushed underground. This programme will explore how young people get hold of these products and look at their effects.

Users of these substances will be given anonymity as we talk to them about their experiences. We will also examine the role of the internet in allowing young people to access these legal highs. Contributors will include a representative from the local Gardai, who will discuss the problem of these substances
and the laws which deal with them.

Documentary 6 – Alternatives to Drugs
After documenting all the challenges faced by young people, we will now look at how communities are tackling these issues head on, offering them an alternative to drug and alcohol abuse. Contributors will be from the O’Hanlon Park Boxing Club, a representative from Craobh Rua (a youth project located in Muirhevnamore, Dundalk, funded by Youthwork Ireland) and from Dundalk Youth Centre. We will also speak to local sportsmen, including players for Dundalk FC, asking them if they were ever offered or tempted to take drugs and how sport helped them to resist that temptation.

Documentary 7 – Bullying
While bullying has always existed, the internet and social media have provided a platform for a new type of bullying, known as ‘cyber-bullying’. Barnardo’s Ireland describes cyber-bullying as follows ‘This is when instant messages, emails, text messages or webpages are used to spread rumours, make threats or harass. It can include written messages, photographs, videos or voice messages. The people who are bullying may choose to set up ‘groups’ in an online social network. These ‘groups’ may be used to jeer at or target someone in a cruel way.

The people who are organising this may remain anonymous’ (Barnardos.ie). It is this anonymity that allows bullies to ‘troll’ their victims online, causing them embarrassment, anxiety, distress, feelings of isolation and in extreme cases, can lead to suicide. Contributors will include representatives from local schools, who will discuss ‘traditional’ and cyber-bullying and we will ask them if school’s are doing enough to address the problem, Head of the Council for Guidance Counsellors, will also join this discussion. We will have a representative from the Friary Youth Club, who will talk to us about their bullying prevention strategy. We will also have a studio panel of teenagers, who will discuss this issue and their experience of it. And finally, we will ask self-defence teacher if he can offer some advice to young people about how to deal with bullies.

Documentary 8 – Relationships
Adolescence is an influential stage of life – sexual behaviours such as inconsistent condom use, multiple partners and casual sex are recognised risk factors for unplanned pregnancy and STI transmission. A report on the ‘Sexual Practices of Adolescents in Ireland’ by the Health Promotion Research Centre in 2014, stated that 26.1% of adolescents aged 15-18 years reported having engaged in sexual intercourse. 10.5% of boys and 6.8% of girls reported using no reliable method of contraception at last intercourse. In 2013, Professor Mary Cannon, a psychiatrist, led a study by the Royal College of Surgeons entitled ‘The Mental Health of Young People in Ireland. She reported on the ‘striking’ link between sexual orientation and mental ill health and claimed that gay people in Ireland are seven times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexuals.

A hugely elevated risk of mood disorder, self harm and attempted suicide was found among lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth. This programme will oversee a panel of teenagers, both gay and heterosexual, to discuss their sexual activity and what (if any) contraception they use. Contributors include representatives from the National Co-ordinator for Social, Personal and Health Education. There will also be a contributor from the Outcomers, a support group in Dundalk for lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people from the North East Region. We will ask them for their advice for young people coming to terms with their sexuality. the North East region of




Teenage Kix was a radio documentary series focusing on the issues affecting teenagers and young adults. The series consisted of 8 half hour programmes which tackled the topics of:

  • smoking

  • alcohol

  • drugs

  • legal highs

  • alternatives to drugs

  • bullying

  • relationships

Most of the material for the show was sought through interviewing experts, political figures and young people from the 2016/2017 TY year from various local schools throughout Dundalk and the surrounding areas who attended 5 organised workshops at the Partnership Court Studios from 7-9pm.

The show was presented by Steven Jimenez and edited by Paul O’Neil. The production of the series was supervised by Mr. John Englishby & Dr. Alison Lennon.


The production of the show consisted of interviewing all of the contributors followed by editing each episode. Putting in relevant stings, backing tracks and vox pops/role plays produced with the young people.


  • We found the TY Workshops to be extremely valuable. We brought in some facilitators to help the young people involved get comfortable with the idea of open discussions and the fact that these open discussions would be recorded. The workshops were supervised by Mr. John Englishby and Dr. Alison Lennon.

  • We found Dundalk FM was very accommodating in allowing us the time and space to complete the project.

  • We found the post production workload to be quite extensive and time consuming. We learned as recording of interviews progressed to focus on one topic at a time with each interviewee rather than ask a diverse range of questions on all topics which made editing more difficult and time consuming.

  • We felt that the planned workload of discussing two or more topics in one workshop with the young people also contributed to an increased workload at the editing stage and in my (Steven) view, it may have led to some questions not being answered in the detail we were looking for.

  • We felt that schools in the area were reluctant to get involved with the project as we did not give them enough detail about what we expected from the young people. We wanted to attract young people with opinions and an interest in radio and in the main we did achieve that objective.


  • A dedicated production suite with a PC that has a DAW (Cool Edit, Cubase) with a Microphone and desk and an ISDN/Telephone line that could be used for the recording of interviews if possible. This could be used solely for documentary work.

  • Any future productions would be subject to more extensive planning in the areas of both interviewing/recording and editing with a plan drafted before such work would take place.

  • An extensive brief for schools would be produced explaining what is planned and an indication of what the young people would be expected to contribute as well as providing the schools with a code of practice specifically produced for the documentary project.

  • The TY workshops would require better planning and more input from the expert facilitators. The expert facilitators should also receive a brief outlining what is expected of them.


We feel that overall the project was a success given that it was our first attempt, time management is a very important part of the production. We feel that more in-depth planning would have helped make the show easier in the post production phase. Studio availability was also a key factor in the ability to edit efficiently and in my (Steven) opinion, may have led to some material being omitted from the final cut.

I would like to thank the staff and management of Dundalk FM for their help and never ending support. Michael Duffy for allowing me to discuss the production with him on “Town Talk”. Alan Byrne for liaising with the community offices and providing the facilities at Dundalk FM for workshops. Mr. John Englishby and Dr. Alison Lennon for taking the time to facilitate the workshops and a special mention to John for assisting me throughout the production in interviewing experts and editing the episodes especially when the on station age restrictions were introduced.

A very big thanks to Sound Engineer Paul O’Neil for his time, patience and fantastic work on the programme.

We hope to produce a revisited documentary at some point in the future as well as a radio drama which is currently being scripted.

Steven Jimenez