Only a fraction of suspected incidents are ever confirmed
Just 1,556 cases of abuse of children were confirmed despite 12,825 reports of concern made over the course of a year, newly published Health Service Executive (HSE) reports revealed yesterday.
The confirmation figures, which relate to 2010, were lower than in 2009 when there were 1,948 cases of child abuse confirmed from 12,013 protection concerns.
Some of the problem may be due to the way cases are categorised as abuse when they relate more to welfare and neglect.
The HSE said the problems of child neglect and failure of families to cope are much bigger issues than sexual abuse.
The reports said: "The figures or sexual abuse are probably much smaller than public perceptions would have anticipated, illustra-ting this is comparatively not as substantial an issue as it is sometimes portrayed."