Shock figures | 

Over 1,800 official reports of child sex abuse in Ireland this year

Reports are made to Tusla by gardaí, teachers, social workers and other experts.

FILE PHOTO

Neil FetherstonhaughSunday World

Official reports of child sex abuse have increased by 42pc this year, shocking new figures revealed.

The reports, which are made to Tusla by gardaí, teachers, social workers and other experts, totalled more than 1,800 between January and May.

This compares to less than 1,300 in the same period in 2021.

Meanwhile, official reports of child abuse or neglect have increased by almost one-third this year.

There were almost 9,000 in the first five months of 2021 - over 2,000 more than the same period last year.

Barnardo’s chief executive, Suzanne Connolly, told Newstalk that in many cases the abuse happens in child's home.

"Children can be at-risk within their own family context,” she said.

"They can also be at-risk in terms of what might be a trusted adult that the family may think is safe for their children to have contact with, but turns out not to be safe.

"We just need to be also aware that in some organisations which provide services to children, there may be people who have an indication... towards abusing children.”

She described the levels of abuse as worrying.

"The increase may indicate that professionals are aware of their responsibilities under Children First to report any concerns they may have.

"Hitherto they may not have been as aware.

"Nevertheless what the crucial point is that the investigations are carried out in a timely manner, and that children get the support and services that they need.”

Yesterday it was revealed how more than 100 victims treated in the HSE’s Sexual Assault Treatment Units last year were under the age of 16.

The HSE said that 24 children under the age of 14 were treated in the units while 78 were aged between 14 and 16.

In total, 859 individuals attended the units, an increase of 17pc since 2020.

The vast majority of the victims - 92pc - treated by the units were women.

The average age of the victims was 26 and 43 of the crimes involved multiple attackers.

Rape Crisis Network Ireland Executive Director Cliona Sadlier told Newstalk: “We know how vulnerable children are - particularly as [they] head into puberty,” she told Newstalk. "11, 12 and 13-years-old."

“We know that this age cohort is particularly vulnerable and we know, unfortunately, that a large proportion of the people who are perpetrating these sexual offences against children are themselves children, or people the same age."

Ms Sadlier warned that people must be made aware that alcohol is never an excuse for crime as 42pc of those treated by the units had drunk more than six standard alcoholic units.

“The opportunity for sexual violence, one of the areas is in social settings and of course in Ireland all our social settings almost invariably involve alcohol,” she noted.


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