One in Four welcomes the publication of the Central Statistics Office detailed prevalence survey on child sexual abuse in Ireland. The results should inform approaches to policy and service provision over the coming years.

  • 20% of respondents reported contact sexual abuse, including intercourse
  • 24% of 18 – 24 years old reported contact sexual abuse, the highest across all age categories
  • Of those aged 18 – 24, 73% were abused by a child under the age of 18
  • 25% of women and 16% of men reported non- contact sexual abuse

At One in Four we are disappointed that despite all the revelations of child sexual abuse in the past twenty years and the positive developments in policy and child protection, the incidence of sexual abuse remains stubbornly high.

Maeve Lewis says: “It is alarming that those aged 18 – 24 years at the time of the survey reported higher levels of sexual abuse than older age groups.  It is particularly concerning that the majority of those in this age group were abused by another child or young person aged 18 or under.   This shows us that we have a long way to go to protect children from the devastating impact of abuse.   This new research must be a wake-up call for us all and presents a serious challenge to the Government, child protection services and law enforcement.”

Maeve Lewis continues: “ The sexual abuse of children is at epidemic levels. We are entering an era when new and different forms of sexual exploitation are available at the touch of button on our phones and devices which may account for the higher levels of reported abuse among younger respondents to the survey.    We must acknowledge that we are failing to protect a large cohort of our children and find innovative strategies  and actions to effectively tackle this dark underbelly of our society.”

These actions would include:

  • An exploration of what is happening in the online world and what measures have been shown to be effective internationally to protect children
  • A schools’ education programme at all levels to give children the skills they need to disclose if they are in danger of abuse and to provide age appropriate courses on healthy sexuality at every level
  • A national offender treatment programme for convicted and non-convicted offenders
  • Research on the attitudes of Irish people to child sexual abuse
  • A public awareness campaign that includes supports for the bystanders – those who have concerns
  • Adequate legislation
  • Adequate resourcing of services for those who have been affected

Maeve Lewis ends:  “The continued  high incidence of child sexual abuse warrants an emergency  response akin to that of our response to Covid.  We need a National Task Force on Child Safety to focus expertise, energy and resources on effective measures to address this scourge if we are to keep children safe”



Maeve Lewis CEO 087 7584080

Deirdre Kenny Deputy CEO and Advocacy Director  087 2721694