Thursday 14 December 2017

Toddler (3) with excrement on her clothes found alone with 'agitated' man among litany of horror cases of child neglect

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Some children who had to be rescued by gardaí from their homes were being treated as "human trash", according to the Government's special rapporteur on child protection.

In his report on how gardaí exercise their powers to remove children from their homes, Dr Geoffrey Shannon said a number of cases he examined were "shocking beyond belief".

"There were children treated as human trash in some of these cases. I do not use the words lightly," he said. Dr Shannon said some children had suffered "barbaric treatment" and their cases were "profoundly shocking, disturbing and deeply distressing".

His report gave details of 91 cases where gardaí used their powers under section 12 of the Child Care Act to remove children from their homes. Here are some examples of cases where gardaí intervened:

Geoffrey Shannon, special rapporteur on child protection. Photo: Damien Eagers
Geoffrey Shannon, special rapporteur on child protection. Photo: Damien Eagers

Case study A

A young girl was in hospital awaiting an X-ray when she was removed by her brother, who had previously admitted to social workers to assaulting the child.

Gardaí went to the man's apartment. He denied the girl was there but gardaí entered and found her inside in a distressed state.

The girl was removed for her own safety. However, gardaí later discovered she was returned to the care of her brother by Tusla.

It appears social workers refused to confirm to gardaí whether an application for an emergency care order had been made.

Case study B

Responding to a 999 call, gardaí attended an apartment littered with rubbish, with soiled nappies and excrement on the floor, broken furniture and dried excrement on a three-year-old girl's clothes. An "agitated" adult male in the apartment had injured his hand punching a hole in the wall.

Case study C

Gardaí were called to a disturbance at a house and saw a man on the balcony covered in blood and heard children crying inside.

Gardaí gained entry after the occupants refused to answer the door. They found blood and broken glass all over the apartment. Two men had been fighting each other with broken bottles.

The children were dirty and appeared neglected.

Case study D

Gardaí received a call about an intoxicated woman slapping her eight-month-old baby in a fast food restaurant.

Staff had witnessed her slapping the child hard, throwing the baby in the air and dragging it across wet ground. The baby appeared malnourished and was left sucking on chips.

Gardaí found the baby had no nappy on and was saturated from self urination and from pouring rain.

The woman was abusive to gardaí and said she felt suicidal.

Case study E

A postman found a one-year-old child wandering unaccompanied in a housing estate, making its way out onto the main road.

Gardaí found the child's mother in an intoxicated state and unable to care for her child.

Case studies F and G

After an anonymous tip-off, gardaí found two children, aged two and six, unsupervised and watching television while their mother was out drinking for the night. In another case, gardaí found a seven-month-old girl alone at home while her mother went out at night.

Case study H

Gardaí were alerted by a neighbour about the possibility that a five-year-old boy was home alone.

Gardaí found the front and back door of the house locked and blinds pulled.

The boy was locked in an upstairs back bedroom, with the key outside the door.

The child was removed under section 12, but Pulse records show that he was reunited with his mother the following day by Tusla.

A review team did "not suspect immediate risk to the child's safety".

Case study I

Gardaí received a report of three young children, aged five, two and less than a year, wandering around unsupervised.

The children were almost hit by a bus and a taxi crossing the street.

Case study J

Crèche staff raised concerns after they found "bruises and hand prints" on the body of a three-year-old child.

Although gardaí invoked section 12 at the request of social workers, Pulse entries appear to show the child was returned to its family.

Case study K

Gardaí were contacted by family members after an incident where a boy was under the influence of drugs and "breaking up the house".

Two gardaí had to remain in hospital overnight, as the boy was extremely violent, and it took a number of hours, and several nursing staff, to be able to counter the effects of the drugs he had taken.

Irish Independent

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