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Increase in calls to helpline for children who have been sexually abused

Sexual abuse service CARI says it has seen children as young as 8 with suicidal thoughts and mental health issues as a result of abuse.

Image: Lonely child via Shutterstock

THERE HAS BEEN an increase in the number of calls to a helpline for children who have been sexually abused.

CARI said it saw a 4 per cent increase to its national helpline in 2012, which usually receives around 1,300 calls per year.

A total of 30 per cent of calls related to sexual assault and rape, an increase from 10 per cent in the previous year.

Majella Ryan of CARI said it had seen children as young as 8 years old with suicidal thoughts, self harm and mental health issues as a result of abuse.

“When left untreated, they can go on to develop problems with addiction, social skills and many other things that can make life difficult and unbearable,” said Ryan at the launch of CARI’s annual report.

Ryan said that there are far more services available for adult survivors of sexual assault and abuse than for children.

“It appears that despite all of the publicity this issue has received, and the bravery of so many adult survivors – most notably in 2012, Fiona Doyle – in coming forward and telling their stories, we are still not tackling this issue by addressing the needs of children who are being abused right now within our society,” said Ryan.

She added that cumulative Government cuts have resulted in some services for child victims being cut back, and warned that this could lead to children in certain regions in the country being unable to access vital services.

Earlier this year, CARI described the lack of counselling facilities for child sexual abuse victims as an “inexplicable scandal”, saying that the HSE does not provide proper services for survivors.

The HSE receives approximately 3,326 new cases of child sexual abuse every year.

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