Health

Thursday 28 August 2014

Children here face higher risk of death from abuse or neglect

Professor Anthony Staines, chair of health systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in Dublin City University
Professor Anthony Staines, chair of health systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in Dublin City University

IRISH children and adolescents have the second-highest rate of deaths by intentional injury in Europe, a new report has revealed.

Intentional injury can include neglect, abuse, violence and suicide and accounts for the deaths of around 3,000 young people under 20 across Europe annually.

Ireland has been ranked second only to Lithuania for such deaths – with 600 among Irish people aged under 25 in 2012.

The analysis highlighted that 94 of these death were either intentional or this could not be determined – with many recorded as suicides. A further 101 were accidental, while 195 were due to other external causes.

The report revealed:

* Ireland has the second-highest rate of suicide in young men.

* The rate of suicide among young Irishwomen is the highest but it is still less than a third of that of men of the same age.

* Homicide rates are very low.

* The rate of deaths by intentional injury stands at 5.23 per 100,000 for men and 2.37 for women.

The report, 'A National Action to Address Child Intentional Injury', from the European Child Safety Alliance, found that when it came to policy to address the problem, Ireland performed quite well.

However, it identified gaps in implementing a national strategy for the prevention of violence by other young people. And there also needs to be improved prevention measures to reduce suicide and self-harm.

Bernard de Vos, chair of the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children, said: "More families are experiencing greater financial pressure. This increases the risk of all forms of violence, particularly child maltreatment, neglect, abuse and suicide.

"The austerity measures in place are having an impact on children's health and safety. We need to ensure this issue is carefully monitored and that safeguards are put in place."

Professor Anthony Staines, chair of health systems at the School of Nursing and Human Sciences in Dublin City University, which was the Irish partner in the alliance, pointed out that "our ability to measure intentional harm to children is very limited".

He added: "Only deaths can be reliably measured in most countries. In Ireland we have a very serious problem with suicide, with exceptionally high rates in both young men and young women.

"We do not have a full range of measures in place to minimise intentional injury in childhood, though we are better in this respect than many other countries."

The report warned that children's rights to safety in the EU were being compromised by inconsistency in adoption and in implementing policies to reduce intentional child injury.

SUICIDE

Ireland has no annual national estimate of the incidence of peer violence. Its mental health services for children are not good enough and it also needs to improve garda services for children and child victims of violence.

"Countries need to increase uptake of proven prevention policies in this area in order to protect Europe's most vulnerable citizens and future society.

"Child-intentional injuries, which include maltreatment, peer violence and suicide, create negative, life-long impacts to children, families and society and thus need immediate and greater attention," the report stated.

It found that only England, Hungary, Ireland and Scotland had either a national programme of multi-disciplinary child death reviews or regional programmes that issued measures to help prevent deaths.

Irish Independent

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