IN 2012, THERE 19,044 received refferals received to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs where there was a concern of child abuse.
In a response to a parliamentary question from Fine Gael’s Bernard Durkan about the extent to which instances of child mental, physical or sex abuse or child prostitution are reported to her Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that in 2011 there were 15,808 referrals where there was a concern of child abuse and in 2012 there were 19,044 received.
She said that child abuse referrals are broken down into four categories: sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse and neglect and although child prostitution is recorded as sexual abuse, it is not broken down according to the type of sexual abuse reported.
Figures to date for 2013 indicate that the level of referrals will be similar to the number of reports made to Social Work Services in 2012.
The minister said that the HSE was ultimately responsible for the delivery of child welfare and protection services but said occasionally her department received calls from individuals concerned.
She added that the HSE have advised that all referrals received an initial assessment to determine what further action is required in accordance with Children First Guidance (2011).
Any immediate protective action which may be required is taken in accordance with the HSE’s statutory duty under the Child Care Act 1991.
Intervention is provided as appropriate ensuring at all times that it is proportionate and in accordance with an assessment of the child’s needs.
Where it is not possible to deal immediately with a referral of abuse, those which are assessed as highest priority are dealt with in the first instance by social work teams.
All referrals received are reviewed and responses monitored.