I’m worried that a child I know is being abused / neglected. What do I do?
If you suspect a child or young person is being harmed or is at risk of harm you should contact the Tusla Social Work Department in the area the child lives in. You can report a concern in writing, in person, by phone or through the Tusla child protection and welfare portal.
If you are unsure whether to report, you should talk your concerns through with a social worker first, by calling the local Tusla Social Work Department. Tusla Social Workers are based at Local Health Offices around the country.
Outside office hours, all child protection concerns should be reported to the Gardaí.
If a child or young person tells you they have been abused:
There are four categories of abuse:
A child may experience more than one type of abuse.
Physical abuse is when someone deliberately hurts a child physically or puts them at risk of being physically hurt. It may occur as a single incident or repeated incidents.
Physical abuse can include:
Emotional abuse is usually found in the relationship between a parent/carer and a child. Once-off and occasional difficulties between a parent/carer and child are not considered emotional abuse.
Abuse occurs when a child’s basic need for attention, affection, approval, consistency and security are not met, due to incapacity or indifference from their parent/carer. Emotional abuse can also occur when adults responsible for taking care of children are unaware of and unable (for a range of reasons) to meet the children’s emotional and developmental needs. Emotional abuse is not easy to recognise because the effects are not easily seen.
Emotional abuse may include:
Neglect occurs when a child does not receive adequate care or supervision to the extent that the child is harmed physically or developmentally. It is generally defined as an omission of care, where a child’s health, development or welfare suffers by being deprived of food, clothing, warmth, hygiene, medical care, intellectual stimulation or supervision and safety.
Emotional neglect such as lack of affection may also lead to the child having attachment difficulties. The extent of the damage to the child’s health, development or welfare is influenced by a range of factors. These factors include the extent, if any, of positive influence in the child’s life as well as the age of the child and the frequency and consistency of neglect.
A reasonable concern for the child’s welfare would exist when neglect becomes typical of the relationship between the child and the parent or carer. This may become apparent where you see the child over a period of time, or the effects of neglect may be obvious based on having seen the child once.
Neglect can include:
Sexual abuse occurs when a child is used by another person for his or her gratification or arousal, or for that of others. It may include the child being involved in sexual acts or exposing the child to sexual activity directly or through pornography.
Child sexual abuse may cover a wide spectrum of abusive activities. It rarely involves just a single incident and in some instances occurs over a number of years.
Sexual abuse may include:
Sexual exploitation of a child which includes: