Thursday 14 December 2017

Drunken abuse of children 'a crisis'

Child welfare concerns: Professor Geoffrey Shannon. Photo: Damien Eagers
Child welfare concerns: Professor Geoffrey Shannon. Photo: Damien Eagers

Robin Schiller

Violence against young people by parents abusing alcohol has been described as a "national crisis" by the author of an audit on child protection within the State.

Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the Government's special rapporteur on child protection, said there is a "prevalence" of domestic abuse in Irish homes.

He added that in some cases children need to be "criminalised and pathologised" in order to receive adequate welfare services.

Dr Shannon was speaking following the publication of his audit report on Garda powers under Section 12 of the Child Care Act, which allows it to remove children from their homes in emergency situations.

"The audit also indicates the prevalence of domestic abuse that doesn't just mean physical abuse.

"One of the biggest challenges facing Irish society is the risks to children by parents who abuse alcohol.

"It is essential that those operating under the umbrella of child protection services can share information on vulnerable children," Dr Shannon said.

He was speaking at the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Children and Youth Affairs yesterday.

The committee also heard scathing criticism of mental health services for children.

Child law solicitor Gareth Noble told TDs and senators of "scandalously long" waiting times for appointments, while 15 counties have no out-of-hours and weekend crisis services. Dozens of young people are being admitted to adult wards because there are no places for them in services for children. The failings were "a serious dereliction" of the duty of care towards children.

Mr Noble said the lack of capacity had been compounded by the recent removal of 11 beds from the Linn Dara facility in west Dublin. He added there are now 2,419 children waiting for appointments with the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), 218 of whom have been waiting more than a year.

Irish Independent

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