22% rise in abuse therapy requests

A LEADING child support group is calling for dedicated support for sexually-abused children after demand by young people for its therapy services increased by a quarter.

Children At Risk in Ireland (CARI) said state-backed specialist services for abused children are not yet available in the same way as those that exist for adults, as recommended after the Ferns Inquiry.

CARI said it has experienced a 22% increase in demand for its services, mainly therapy for abused children, in the last two years. The support group handled some 2,471 appointments for therapy and advice appointments for young victims of abuse and their families last year. This followed 2,459 appointments the previous year and 1,962 in 2007.

Ireland risks failing this generation of young people as it did earlier ones by telling young victims they must wait until they are an adult before they can fully access therapeutic services, the support group will warn at the launch of its annual report today.

A key recommendation from one of the five working groups set up after the Ferns Inquiry was the development of services for children who were sexually abused and their families.

The report, submitted to the HSE and ministers in the autumn of last year, said young victims of abuse should be given access to free therapeutic services as soon as possible after assessment.

Consideration should also be given to reviewing the role of existing treatment units to include all forms of abuse, it added.

CARI claims there is “a deafening and indefensible silence” from the HSE and Minister for Children Barry Andrews on the working group’s Ferns report.

The support group also said that the vast majority of its clients included in the two years covered in the report had either been abused by a family member or other trusted persons.

Niall Muldoon, the group’s national clinical director, said: “It is totally unacceptable that services for these children lag behind those available for adults.

“It is time that we broaden our narrow focus on clerical abuse and recognise that over 80% of abused children are hurt by family members or other trusted adults.”

The annual report will be launched by the Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan today.

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