Over 1,000 children were supported by CARI last year, the voluntary organisation that helps children, families and groups affected by child sexual abuse.
CARI offers a range of support services to those affected, including a helpline, therapy sessions and a child accompaniment support service.
According to the organisation's 2018 Annual Report, which has just been published, a total of 1,054 children were supported across all of its clinical services last year.
Over 2,000 therapy sessions were provided to children and their families last year and most of the children that therapy was provided for were aged between seven and 12.
"Our therapy service continues to provide vital interventions for children who have been impacted by sexual abuse and children who present with sexually harmful bebaviours.
"Timely and appropriate intervention is paramount for children dealing with these experiences. It is unacceptable that CARI continues to have children sit on our waiting list because we do not have the resources that will enable them to get quicker access to us," commented CARI's executive director, Eve Farrelly.
CARI also works with children up to the age of 12 who exhibit sexually harmful behaviour. The report noted that there has been "a significant increase in the number of children being referred" for this type of behaviour.
"In 2018, there was an increase of 36% in referrals for children with sexually harmful behaviour. These numbers are increasing yearly, as are the complexity of cases being referred to CARI. These referrals may often need to be prioritised, especially when there is a risk to other children," the report stated.
Meanwhile, the organisation's helpline received 807 calls in 2018. This is often the first point of contact for parents and professionals with concerns and according to the report, 49% of these calls came from mothers, while just 7% were from fathers and 17% from social workers.
The main reasons why callers contacted the helpline were concerns over sexual assault, rape and sexualised behaviour.
Of the 852 children that CARI supported through the helpline, one in three was under the age of 10.
The report also showed that the child accompaniment support service continued to provide vital support for children and their families at the start of criminal proceedings, during forensic medical examinations, and at the end of criminal proceedings when children are giving witness testimony during criminal trials.
"What we continue to see through our forensic accompaniment service
is that the younger the child is, the more likely it is that the alleged offender is a family member.
"When the child becomes a teenager, the alleged offender is more likely to be outside the family. Many of the teens we supported presented with a concern of sexual abuse after a social event with groups of peers," Ms Farrelly noted.
Altogether, CARI provided support for 90 children involved in criminal trials last year.
The 2018 Annual Report can be viewed here. For more information on CARI, click here.
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