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Beating, pinching, deliberate poisoning - 19,000 reports of child abuse made in Ireland every year

The largest number of referrals relate to concerns about emotional abuse.
Dec 7th 2015, 6:10 AM 10,644 22

IN IRELAND OVER the last three years, there was an average of 19,000 child protection referrals due to abuse concerns.

In the first quarter of 2015 alone, the number had reached 4,770.

  • The largest number of referrals – some 1,743 – were because of concern about emotional abuse;
  • A further 1,260 related to neglect;
  • Concern about physical abuse resulted in 1,038 reports;
  • And 729 referrals related to sexual abuse claims or worries.

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Tusla, Ireland’s child and family agency, says incidents of physical abuse against children can involve:

  • severe physical punishment;
  • beating, slapping, hitting or kicking;
  • pushing, shaking or throwing;
  • pinching, biting, choking or hair-pulling;
  • terrorising with threats;
  • observing violence;
  • use of excessive force in handling;
  • deliberate poisoning;
  • suffocation;
  • fabricated/induced illness
  • allowing or creating a substantial risk of significant harm to a child.

Children in State care

In response to a parliamentary question from TD Bernard Durkan, Minister for Children James Reilly explained that not all referrals will result in a need for a social work service or in a child being taken into care.

He said it was difficult to say whether a satisfactory resolution, from a child’s point of view, has been achieved in all instances, but stressed children are consulted, in as far as possible, in relation to decisions that affect them.

Latest figures show some 6,373 children are in State care. The majority of these children are in foster care, with 337 living in residential care. The number of children coming into care for the first time has been falling in the past few years.

However the minister said Tusla “deals immediately with emergency cases, including for instance, if a child has been abandoned or is in immediate physical danger or at immediate risk of sexual abuse”.

“Social work duty teams keep high priority cases under review by regularly checking to ascertain risk to the child, and where necessary will re-prioritise the case,” he said.

Read: No convictions on over 50 abuse allegations against religious orders>

Read: Nearly a third of children in care cases have special needs>

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Michelle Hennessy

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