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Outrage at closure of only 24-hour service for sexually abused children

A charity which offers therapy to child victims said those under the age of 14 will not be able to avail of adequate examination and treatment.
Jan 4th 2016, 6:00 PM 13,816 51

A CHARITY WHICH provides therapy to children and adolescents who have been victims of sexual abuse has expressed outrage at the closure of the country’s only 24-hour service.

The Galway-based child and adolescent sexual assault treatment service was first set up in 2011 to fill a gap in forensic medical care for child victims of sexual violence. Only young people from the age of 14 can avail of support, examination and treatment at adult sexual assault treatment units.

The service has, in recent days, been forced to close. This decision was reportedly because of issues with the HSE over recognition, funding and medical indemnity insurance. Today the Cari Foundation, which had provided an accompaniment service for children attending the service, called on the HSE to immediately reinstate it.

“We know first-hand from speaking with these families that when a family is faced with the reality of having to bring their child to be forensically examined because of suspected sexual abuse their whole world can sometimes feel like it’s been taken from under their feet,” commented co-ordinator at the service, Eve Farelly.

At the moment in Ireland, CASATS is the only 24-hour acute and historic forensic medical service for children suspected of sexual abuse. Without this service, children will have no dedicated unit to go should they need a forensic examination. In 2016 this is a wholly unacceptable situation.

“The removal of this service is to fail our most cherished children, and it is our most cherished, most vulnerable that need this service.”

Farrelly claimed the closure of the service puts Ireland in breach of commitments in November 2015 to child victims. Cari said this incident highlights the danger of children “falling through the cracks” left by the separation of the HSE and the child and family agency Tusla.

Read: Childline received over 1,000 calls and messages from children on Christmas Day>

Read: Man (74) jailed for indecently assaulting boy he paid for sexual acts>

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Michelle Hennessy

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