The ISPCC has urged any individuals with concerns in relation to the welfare of a child to continue to alert authorities, as figures show an increase in child sexual abuse referrals made by the Child and Family Agency, Tusla to An Garda Síochána in recent years.
The organisation has responded to questions raised by Social Democrats TD Cian O’Callaghan and subsequently published by The Irish Times, which highlighted an increase of 75 per cent between such referrals made in 2019 and the same figure for 2016.
ISPCC Director of Services, Caroline O’Sullivan, said: “Child sexual abuse is a heinous crime, and one which we are unfortunately acutely aware continues to prevail in Irish society. No child should ever be subjected to abuse of this nature. It behoves everyone to work together to ensure children are safe and protected.’
“This article raises a number of pertinent questions in relation to the reason for an increase in reporting. If the figures indicate an increase in reporting brought about through increased awareness of mandatory reporting and of what constitutes child sexual abuse, then this is to be welcomed.
“The ISPCC advocated for the introduction of mandatory reporting, as was introduced in the Children First Act 2015 – and commenced in 2017 – and is likely to have impacted on the increase in the figures reported in this article. It must be stated, however, that child protection is everyone’s responsibility. The ISPCC urges any individual with any concerns about the safety or welfare of a child or young person to report these to Tusla or An Garda Síochána, who have statutory responsibility to respond to such concerns.
“The Childline Listening Service is here 24 hours a day, every day, for any child or young person who would like support in relation to any issue. The service can be reached online at Childline.ie or by calling 1800 66 66 66.”