Principals seek clearer child neglect guidelines

SCHOOL principals have called for clearer guidelines and faster responses from the Health Service Executive on reporting of suspected child neglect.

At its 2009 conference, the Irish Primary Principals Network (IPPN) called for proper follow-up by social workers and the HSE to such notifications when they are made, as principals say they have raised suspicions of neglect in the past and seen no action being taken. A survey of its members revealed that 90% of them want reporting of suspected neglect, physical or sexual abuse made mandatory.

IPPN president Pat Goff said that, if one good thing comes of the Roscommon case, it would be that revised reporting guidelines give a clear definition of neglect that means a school can be sure when they must report suspicions to the health services.

“A principal or teacher might be aware of a child coming in regularly without being properly fed, badly clothed, with no homework done or being absent regularly. But the trouble is that once a report goes in to the HSE – who may not follow up beyond a first visit to the home – the family cuts off links with the school, which may be the only support they have had up to that point,” said Mr Goff.

The HSE announced when it published the Roscommon child care inquiry report on Wednesday that it is to extend an audit into recent neglect cases in the HSE West region to HSE South and HSE Dublin/Mid-Leinster after admitting there were other cases causing concern.


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