Shocking | 

Charity reports rise in sexual abuse between siblings during Covid lockdowns

‘It would appear that home was the least safe place for some children to find themselves’

Posed stock image | Deposit Photos

Clodagh MeaneySunday World

National charity, Children at Risk in Ireland (CARI), has reported that sibling-on-sibling sexual abuse rose during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The organisation’s National Head of Therapy, Emer O’Neill, has said that children accessing pornography online had resulted in "experimenting and acting out on siblings.”

RTÉ reports that at present, there are 249 children on CARI’s waiting list for therapy and support services, and without further funding, it could take up to five years to clear the list.

General Manager Colm O'Brien says that the charity are under increased financial pressure as its waiting list doubled in 2020.

"The only thing that materially changed was we were asked to stay in our homes to remain safe. But regrettably, it would appear that home was the least safe place for some children to find themselves. And that's just shocking,” he said.

While the numbers are stark, the charity says they welcome the increase because it shows that those in need are asking for help.

"We would say that's a good sign because we need to break the silence on it. Silence is the enabler. That's what the perpetrators are relying upon, that these children are so young and so innocent that they never get found out."

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While the charity have the physical space to get through their waiting list within two years, they say they do not have enough psychotherapists on hand to help.

"An empty therapy room is a sin, really, because an empty therapy room that's available is not being used is a child sitting at home in pain and in fear and a family in trauma.”

“That's what we're trying to address and all we're trying to do is raise people's awareness and clearly raise funds at government level," Mr O'Brien added.

He further explained that a 5-year wait means a 3-year-old may not be seen until they are 8 years old.

If you have been affected by this story, you can contact CARI’s care line on 0818 924 567.

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