Reporting Suspected Child Abuse

What constitutes child abuse?

Children have a right to enjoy their childhood free from violence, injury or abuse at the hands of adults. This right is enshrined in law, from the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child down to national laws and guidelines.

Children can be subjected to a number of forms of abuse:

  • Neglect - where a child is deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, stimulation or care.
  • Emotional Abuse - where affection, approval, consistency and security are withheld from a child.
  • Physical Abuse - any form of injury to a child which is caused deliberately, or which results from deliberate neglect to protect the child.
  • Sexual Abuse - when a child is used by an adult for their gratification.

What should I do if I suspect a child is being abused?

If you suspect that a child you know is being abused, you should report your suspicions to the Gardai or to your local Health Board. They will investigate any allegation of abuse thoroughly and sensitively.

Can I report abuse that took place long ago?

Criminal abuses that took place in the past can be investigated by the Gardai if the abuser is still alive, as there is no statute of limitation on such offences. You may wish to take legal advice from a solicitor on how to go about this.

Any adult who was abused as a child should strongly consider seeking counselling from the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre - - or from one of the rape crisis centres around the country.

Abuses which took place in the past in institutions such as orphanages and industrial schools are now the subject of a Government Commission which is due to report in 2002. The Commission on Child Abuse in Irish institutions has begun its public hearings and will soon commence private hearings.

If you have ever lived in Ireland in an institution such as a school, an industrial school, a reformatory school, an orphanage, a hospital, a children's home or any other similar place including a foster home, and were abused there, the Commission would like to hear from you.

The Commission on Child Abuse is currently seeking statements from people who were physically, sexually, emotionally or psychologically abused. It is important to note that these statements are not confined to people who are currently living in Ireland.

People living in or outside of Ireland who were abused should contact the Commission, whose address and telephone numbers are given below:

Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Second Floor,

St Stephen's Green House,

Earlsfort Terrace,

Dublin 2.

Tel: (01) 662 4444

Callsave: 1850 20 11 20 (Rep of Ireland)

Lo-Call: 0845 3098 139 (NI and UK)


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