Child abuse reports reach highest level in year

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Digital Desk staff

The number of reports of child abuse has reached its highest level in a year.

Child and Family Agency Tusla said reports had increased by a third in a single month between May and June.

A select group of people are able to make “mandated” reports of abuse to the agency, including doctors, nurses, gardaí, teachers and youth workers.

In May, they made 735 reports of child abuse, but this rose to 975 in June, the highest since 12 months prior.

You’re always concerned when there is an increase, particularly because of the lockdown because we are all hypersensitive to what’s happened to children when they were at home and there was no one else there.

Tanya Ward, chief executive of the Children's Rights Alliance, said the increase is concerning and more resources will be needed to tackle the reports.

“You’re always concerned when there is an increase, particularly because of the lockdown because we are all hypersensitive to what’s happened to children when they were at home and there was no one else there,” she said.

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“I think we’re really going to have to look at that, particularly in the autumn months to see what has been happening for children and young people. We have to make sure that Tusla actually has the resources to be able to respond to these cases.”

51 per cent of the reports are related to emotional abuse and 18 per cent to physical abuse. In June, Tusla also received 140 reports of sexual abuse and 115 complaints of neglect.

Gardaí tend to classify call outs for domestic violence concerns when there’s a child present in the house... under emotional abuse.

Ms Ward said reports by gardaí rose during the pandemic: “There have been less referrals from teachers over the three months of the lockdown and that was partly due to the fact that children weren’t in schools.”

Joseph Mooney, an assistant professor of social work in UCD, said the sharp increase in child abuse reports may be linked to a rise in domestic violence during the lockdown.

“Gardaí tend to classify call outs for domestic violence concerns when there’s a child present in the house, they report those to Tusla, they tend to classify those under emotional abuse,” he said.

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