100 cases of child abuse in Mid West a month

child_with_hand_upby Bernie English bernie@limerickpost.ie

THERE were almost 900 cases of child abuse reported to child protection services in the Mid West during the first nine months of last year, a massive increase from the previous year’s figures.

And of the 868 reports submitted from Limerick, Clare and Tipperary, 491 so far have been deemed serious enough to warrant close investigation.

According to the figures obtained from Tusla, the National Child and Family Agency, the number of reports in the Mid West for the entirety of 2013 were 696, far short of the first nine months figures for 2014.

There are no figures available as yet for 2015 or the final quarter of 2014.

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Of the reports in 2013, 529 required further investigation or action from the social services, a stage process known as ‘initial assessment’.

The reporting figures in the Mid West have been increasing steadily since 2011, when there were 420 reported cases of abuse or neglect and 2012, when 593 cases were reported.

The allegations cover such issues as child neglect or abuse of a sexual, physical, or emotional nature.

The process of initial assessment involves meeting the child, the child’s parents, and contacting relevant professionals. The process is aimed at determining if there is, in principal, a case to answer.

The next step, if social and child protection workers are unhappy with the situation, is to carry out risk assessment may need to be carried out.

After investigations, it may be determined that a child should be taken into care because he or she is at risk.

Figures for the number of children taken into care as a result of complaints in the Mid West are currently not available.

A spokesperson for Tusla said that the agency “responds to every child protection or welfare referral it receives”.

Currently, more than 90 per cent of Irish children in care are in foster care.