Reports of child abuse increase by 25%

Reports of child abuse increase by 25%


The Irish Times, Editorial


This Editorial was previously published in The Irish Times on October 21, 2000.

Since it has been removed from The Irish Times' web site, the Administration editor has kindly consented to the reproduction and publishing of the article on the NCHR's web site.




Reports alleging child abuse or neglect of children in the Mid-Western Health Board area rose by 25 per cent in 1999, according to the board's annual review of its childcare services.


The reports resulted in 177 cases of abuse being confirmed, compared to 262 in 1998. During the year, 175 children were admitted to health board care. More than 400 children were in the board's care, according to the review.


Mr Gerald Crowley, assistant chief executive, said the increase in numbers reflected increased challenges being faced by health board staff. "The referrals and reports are coming from right across the spectrum. They are coming from a variety of agencies, from gardaí, to schools, which show heightened awareness of the issues around children's safety. What is a positive sign is that a significant percentage is coming from families themselves," he said. The highest number of confirmed cases was in Co Limerick, followed by north Tipperary and Clare. Most confirmed abuse cases relate to neglect (42 per cent), followed by emotional abuse (24 per cent) , physical abuse (23 per cent) and sexual abuse (11 per cent).


Asked about the difficulties experienced by the board in finding facilities for out-of-control children, Mr Crowley said five special care units were being developed over the next 18 months. "There are a small number of children exhibiting very challenging behaviour and who are both troubled and troublesome. Caring for them is a very complex task," he said. He said troubled cases were proportionately higher in marginalised urban areas. "In the past year or two, there have also been very serious cases emerging in rural areas."


But there were "notable successes" in placing 50 children within their extended family network such as an aunt or uncle.

"The available research indicates that such placements are likely to be much more stable and have better outcomes."


This also represents a move away from the traditional model of institutional care. "Locking up kids is not a solution. It means you feel better for a while but it is not as simple as that. At the foundation of the State, we had 10,000 kids in institutional care and we maintained that for generations. We need to learn that lesson," he said. Almost 30 per cent of the region's population of 317,069 is under 18 and "current indications suggest that the numbers of children under 14 in the immediate future is likely to rise," the review states. Among the priorities identified is the need to help schools cope with teenage pregnancies. Births outside marriages and to teenagers have continued to rise.



The Irish Times


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