Five young people who became homeless in Cork city were abused while in care. The abuse ranged from physical to emotional and even sexual abuse in one instance, according to a report compiled by child welfare experts.
The problem of homeless children has been increasing in recent years. It is caused by a variety of problems in the home: family conflict, domestic abuse, drug problems, learning difficulties, neglect and mental problems.
The parents of 15 young people, out of a total of 37 interviewed, were separated or divorced, and a parent had died in seven other cases. Thirteen of the young people had been in residential or foster care, but the report noted that “practically all” were shunted around, which had a negative impact on their already brittle sense of security and stability.
The report shows the failings of our child protection system. Problems experienced by the young people could have been prevented at an earlier stage.
Twenty-four of the people interviewed for the report professed to be depressed, and more than half of them had admitted to acts of self-harm, while six had attempted suicide. Thirty-one of the 37 interviewed admitted to having taken drugs.
It probably comes as no surprise that young people in such circumstances are particularly vulnerable to the scourge of drugs. As a result they become prey to the most evil and sinister segments of our society.
Those young people may be the initial victims, but ultimately society as a whole pays and everyone is victimised by the failure to tackle these problems.
The HSE has been incapable of solving its own problems, so it is absurd to think that it can cope effectively with problem children.
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