Monday 20 November 2017

Emer O'Kelly: No law can fully protect a child from bad parents

Some mums and dads fall into a grey area that is not covered by criminal law, writes Emer O'Kelly

BRUTAL VIOLENCE: In 'Song for a Raggy Boy', above, Aidan Quinn plays a teacher who tries to protect boys from sadistic priests in a Catholic reform school
BRUTAL VIOLENCE: In 'Song for a Raggy Boy', above, Aidan Quinn plays a teacher who tries to protect boys from sadistic priests in a Catholic reform school

Emer O'Kelly

The Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, has until the end of this month to tell the Council of Europe what she is doing to outlaw physical punishment of children within the home, which the council defines as "violence against children". We have already signed up to the European Social Charter which requires us to protect children and young people from violence.

So where does the State stand? Well of course, we've had a referendum on children's rights, to include a constitutional specification that they have those rights.

Just as prior to that, even without constitutional authority, we had the Children's Act 2001, which states, "It shall be an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill treated, neglected, abandoned, or exposed in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child's health, or seriously to affect his or her wellbeing."

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