ONE IN FOUR WELCOMES NEW CHILD PROTECTION LEGISLATION
One in Four warmly welcomes two new pieces of legislation published today. We do not have an effective child protection system in this country. The Criminal Justice Bill and the Children First Bill will for the first time create an obligation to report all concerns about children to the statutory authorities. We commend Minister Fitzgerald and Minister Shatter for introducing this long overdue legislation.
Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: “The Reports of the past decade have shown clearly what happens when adults look the other way and do not act to protect children. Thousands of Irish children have been sexually abused in their families, communities and in the Catholic Church and the effects of that abuse have devastated every aspect of their lives. From now on we will all have a duty to make our concerns known”
Maeve Lewis continues” We are worried that survivors might be reluctant to come forward to seek help if total confidentiality cannot be maintained. They fear, often with good reason, the reaction of their families and communities to a disclosure. Balancing the needs of survivors to access services with the need to protect children requires skilled professional intervention. We welcome the fact that reports will only be made to the Gardai if the survivor so wishes. One in Four already works within the Children First Guidelines and in our experience most survivors agree to report allegations to the HSE child protection services because they do not want other children to suffer the same abuse”
Maeve Lewis ends: “The new legislation will only be effective if resources are made available to the statutory agencies and to the non-governmental organisations who support survivors. In these difficult times hard decisions will have to be made. We like to think of ourselves as a society that cherishes our children but the recent revelations have shown this to be false. We now have an opportunity to create a world class child protection system so that Ireland becomes a place where children can grow up safe from sexual harm.”