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More than 6,000 physical abuse referrals to child and family agency last year

The most common form of abuse in cases referred to Tusla was emotional abuse.

THE CHILD AND family agency Tusla received more than 24,800 child abuse referrals last year, with 41% of those relating to emotional abuse.

Figures released to TD Bernard Durkan show an increase in abuse referrals over the last three years from 19,087 in 2016. The most common form of abuse reported each year was emotional abuse – 10,130 in 2018.

Last year, 25% of abuse referrals related to physical abuse, 20% related to neglect and there were 3,548 (14%) sexual abuse referrals.

Tusla said all referrals undergo a preliminary assessment and if there is a concern that there is an ongoing risk of significant harm then the child is subject to a child protection conference process. As a result of this or in urgent cases a child may come into care.

At the end of February this year, there were 977 children subject to a child protection plan agreed during the conference process. All of these children had been allocated a social worker. 

Tusla said these numbers are inclusive of all children at home, in public institutions or in foster care where there was an ongoing risk of significant harm.

“Tusla works in partnership with families and their networks to develop safety plans for children based on the strengths of the family and whilst remaining clear on the risks and dangers that exist,” the agency said.

“We go all we can to support children at home or to remain home or return home with safety but where this is not possible we provide care options as close to the family as possible, including relative placements, foster care and where necessary, residential care.”