Child criminalisation - Children need safety

In the midst of the uproar over the Murphy Report on clerical paedophile abuse, it is disturbing to learn that warnings about other forms of child abuse will not be acted upon properly until 2012.

Despite the advice of a range of international monitoring bodies that children should be removed from St Patrick’s Institution, the Government has enacted legislation to allow children aged 16 and 17 to be detained there until the scheduled opening of a new National Children’s Detention Facility in Lusk, Co Dublin.

Children’s Ombudsman Emily Logan has, however, warmly backed a recommendation in the report of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) to give her office powers to investigate complaints from any child held in St Patrick’s. Currently the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002 prohibits her office from involvement with the 241 children in St Patrick’s.

The IPRT report warns that drugs pose “pressing problems” at St Patrick’s. Increased security measures have led to a rise in “bullying and intimidation” as vulnerable inmates are being forced into accepting drugs for others during visits.

Exposing children to such intimidation is only likely to further criminalise those children. It amounts to the blatant incubation of crime.


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