Sunday 28 December 2014

Vulnerable schoolgirl (16) who went missing after learning of pregnancy has been committed to secure care by the High Court

By Saurya Cherfi

Published 18/08/2014 | 19:23

The number of teenagers giving birth fell in 2009, figures show
The girl has a learning disability which places her in a vulnerable position given that she has the cognitive functioning of an 11-year-old, the High Court heard.

A 16-year-old Co Dublin schoolgirl, who is six months pregnant and beyond the control of her family, has been committed to secure care by the High Court.

Barrister Sarah McKechnie, who appeared for the Child and Family Agency, told the court that the teenager, who cannot be identified, was so vulnerable she was at considerable risk.

Ms McKechnie said the girl had a learning disability which placed her in a vulnerable position given that she had the cognitive functioning of an 11-year-old.

She told Mr Justice Bernard Barton the girl was suicidal and demonstrated a high-risk behaviour.  She had little understanding of the danger she was putting herself in.

The court heard she lived with her father but had been absconding regularly. She had admitted having taken drugs.

Ms McKenchie said the situation was extremely urgent and the Agency was concerned of the high level of risk both to the teenager and to her unborn child.

She said the girl had been missing for a number of days even after finding out she was pregnant.  She had developed a smoking habit and had admitted to drinking alcohol.

Judge Barton heard the girl rarely attended school and the Gardaí were concerned about her socialising with a negative group. There had been repeated incidents of her having failed to return home.

Ms McKenchie said the girl’s father had been extremely concerned about his daughter’s behaviour and had supported the application to have her placed in secure care.

Counsel said her mother had not been informed of the application before the court for fear she would alert her daughter who might again abscond.

There had been a concern that without secure care the girl would continue to abscond and would pose an increasing risk to herself in terms of drug and alcohol abuse and sexual activity.

Ms McKenchie said the Agency was aware that the order of the High Court could be very traumatic for the young girl and that she would be informed in “a reasonably gentle manner.”

Judge Barton directed that the girl be taken into secure care.

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