4,000 child abuses reported last year

There were more than 180 disclosures of physical and sexual abuse of children and 18 cases of child abduction reported to Women’s Aid last year.

The agency said more than 3,500 cases of emotional abuse of children were disclosed to them in 2016.

Children were slapped, punched, shouted at, called names, and even told they would be killed alongside their mothers. They also witnessed appalling violence, including their mothers being beaten or even raped.

The findings are contained in the ‘Women’s Aid Impact Report 2016’, being launched today by Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone.

Of the 3,823 disclosures of child abuse:

  • 3,558 were of emotional abuse;
  • 136 of physical abuse; and
  • 47 cases of sexual abuse.

The report said there were “strong links” between child abuse and domestic violence and called for greater recognition of the risk to children, particularly during access arrangements.

It documented 82 disclosures of where children were abused during access visits.

“Domestic violence continues to be a very common context in which children experience abuse, with the abuser of the mother being the abuser of the children,” said the report.

“It has also been found that the more severe the domestic violence, the more severe the abuse of children.”

It said children were also witnessing violence perpetrated on their mother.

“Many children have witnessed their mother being shouted at, threatened, physically assaulted and at times have seen their mother being raped,” said the report.

“Where they have not directly seen the abuse occurring, they may have overheard abusive incidents, or seen the aftermath of it such as bruises, broken bones, damaged furniture and belongings.”

The report said they received almost 17,000 disclosures of domestic violence against women in 2016.

This included more than 11,000 cases of emotional abuse, 3,500 cases of physical abuse, almost 700 cases of sexual abuse, and 1,670 cases of financial abuse.

The figures follow revelations that the Central Statistics Office could not stand over garda domestic violence figures after conducting an analysis covering six years.

As reported in the Irish Examiner at the weekend, the CSO found the Garda data was “not sufficiently robust” to be published.

It said that until measures were taken by Garda HQ it would not be in a position to publish them.

Commenting, Women’s Aid director Margaret Martin said: “In 2014, the Garda Inspectorate report identified domestic violence as a high volume crime and it is clear that it has been under-recorded for many years.

“There is a growing recognition that previous data collection systems are not fit for purpose and it is vital that this work is properly resourced so that we have robust, accurate and useful data on domestic violence in Ireland.”


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