The ISPCC has called for a Government commitment to a national strategy on child sexual abuse, as Recorded Crime Statistics published by the Central Statistics Office today show reported cases of child sexual abuse in Ireland increased by nine per cent in 2020.
The charity which provides services to children, young people and families across Ireland, expressed the view that it would be extremely concerned by any increase in instances of child sexual abuse but welcomes the reporting of any such suspected cases and urges individuals with any concerns about the welfare of a child or young person to report these to An Garda Síochána or to the Child and Family Agency, Tusla.
The importance of a National Strategy for Child Sexual Abuse, Child Sexual Exploitation and Online Risks to Child Safety has been advocated by the ISPCC, in line with a recommendation of the Garda Inspectorate.
ISPCC Chief Executive John Church said: “A rise in the prevalence of any form of abuse of children is a matter of significant concern for the ISPCC. Sexual abuse, as with abuse of any other nature, is a heinous crime. It is vitally important that suspected cases are reported to the authorities, to help keep children safe.
“Through our work with children and families we know that, where it happens, child sexual abuse can have a devastating and long-lasting impact on the child and the wider family. It is listed as one of the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which can change the course of children’s lives. Where children have the courage to speak out, they should be afforded the best and most efficient care pathway. They ought to have timely and appropriate access to care in a location near to them.
“Ireland has a bleak history in terms of how it has listened to children and how it has treated those who have experienced this form of crime. It is now time for the Government to show leadership by recognising the need to commit to a national strategy that would bring together the relevant Government departments and services required to bring about change.”
“Everyone can play a vital role in helping to keep children safe. It is important that individuals are alert to the potential of a child or young person being at risk and take appropriate action by reporting any concerns to An Garda Síochána or to Tusla.”
The Childline Listening Service is always available to any child or young person in Ireland who would like to talk about any issue which may be on their mind.
The service can be reached in the following ways:
Chat online: Childline.ie
Call: 1800 66 66 66