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TD says sending children to adult psychiatric units is 'inhumane'

A new report has found that 83 children were put into adult psychiatric units last year, despite guidelines forbidding this practice.

PLACING CHILDREN INTO adult psychiatric units has been described as “inhumane” by Fianna Fáil’s Spokesperson on Children.

Robert Troy said the practice was a “damning indictment of our child protection system and should set off alarm bells in Government”.

The Longford-Westmeath TD was responding to the findings of a new report conducted by Dr Susan Finnerty, assistant inspector of mental services, which found that 83 children were put into adult psychiatric units last year, despite guidelines forbidding it.

According to the findings, more than 40% of the children were aged 16 or under.

In 2011, the Mental Health Commission issued guidelines saying that the practice should be ended by the end of the year.

Breach of human rights

“This is an obvious breach of these children’s basic human rights and it is a gross exploitation of some of our most vulnerable citizens,” Troy stated.

Locking children into adult institutions is potentially a breach of article 5 of European Convention on Human Rights which stipulates that someone’s liberty can only be restricted through proportionate means.

Troy said that the practice also “calls into question the worth of the Children’s Referendum”.

“What was the point of setting down in statute the basic rights of children if we can’t even treat our most vulnerable ones humanely?”

Mother-and-baby homes

Referencing the recent revelations surrounding mother-and-baby homes, he said the State has “learned nothing”.

Over the last number of weeks we have been seen and heard of how the state historically and brutally neglected the most vulnerable women and children. Unfortunately it seems we have learned nothing and continue to let children be treated inhumanely.

He said that the issue does not come under the remit of the newly established child and family agency Tusla.

“[This] reinforces the point I have been making that the cost for an independent investigation into mother and baby homes should not come out of current budgets. The vulnerable children of today should not he made suffer for failures of the past,” Troy added.

Helplines:

  • Console 1800 201 890 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: Unsuitable treatment for children in mental health units

Read: Children in State care being ‘placed in danger of abuse and exploitation’

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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