Learn more about your rights if you experience abuse in Ireland as a young person
Written by Children's Rights Alliance
This factsheet is an extract from the publication Know Your Rights: The Rights of Children and Young People published by the Children’s Rights Alliance. It is reproduced here with their kind permission. Know Your Rights is a public information project designed to inform everyone, in plain language, of the rights and entitlements children have in Ireland and where to go when they are not respected.
In Ireland, no matter what age you are, you have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse, violence and exploitation. It can be hard to recognise some types of abuse. If you are experiencing abuse, it can be difficult to open up but talking to someone about what is going on is a good first step.
The State has a legal duty to look after your safety and welfare. There are laws and organisations in Ireland that work to protect children and young people from abuse, exploitation and to investigate and punish abusers. The Gardaí and Director of Public Prosecutions may have a role to play in prosecuting people that cause harm to children and young people.
There are four types of child abuse:
You may experience one or more forms of abuse at any given time.
Neglect is when an adult fails to take care of you, and this causes you significant harm or stops you developing properly. Neglect may include:
Neglect is something that happens over time and not just at one specific point.
Emotional abuse usually happens when an adult:
This form of abuse is more about the kind of relationship you have with an adult rather than particular incidents that take place. It can result in you feeling insecure, unhappy, having low self-esteem and underachieving in school or in other aspects of your life.
Physical abuse happens when an adult causes you harm through physical punishment or by failing to take action to stop you from being physically hurt when it is possible to do so.
This type of abuse includes severe physical punishment or deliberately hurting you. It can include, but is not limited to:
Sexual abuse or exploitation happens when an adult uses you for sexual purposes. This may include:
You have a right to be protected from all forms of abuse. The most important thing, if you experience any kind of abuse at home, school or anywhere else, is that you tell an adult that you trust so they can help and support you.
Then you or an adult you trust should contact your local social worker in Tusla (The Child and Family Agency). To find out their contact details see the Tusla website.
If you need help in an emergency or outside office hours (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday), you, or an adult you trust can contact your nearest Garda station or ring the emergency phone line, either 999 or 112.
If you are worried about yourself, a person you know or a friend, you can talk to Childline. You can also can call the Rape Crisis Helpline.
Certain professionals like counsellors, teachers and doctors by law have to tell Tusla if you tell them that you have been harmed or are at risk of being harmed. If you would like to talk more about this, you can talk to Childline for free.
The Child and Family Agency, also known as Tusla, is the national organisation that is responsible for the safety and welfare of children in Ireland. If you cannot live with your family, Tusla is responsible for making sure you have a place to live and adults to look after you.
Social workers are part of a service that is provided by Tusla. They help and support children who may be at risk of harm or who are not safe. It is the job of social workers to protect and support you if you are feeling unsafe at home or in your life.
Social workers are available from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday. There are social workers across Ireland. To contact a social worker in your area, you will need to contact your local Tusla social work duty service. You can do this by phone, email or by calling into the office. You can get contact details for social workers by ringing your local social work office, the number is on the Tusla website.
An Garda Síochána is the national police service in Ireland. It is their job to make sure you are safe and do not come to any harm. There are local Garda stations across Ireland. The free, emergency Garda phone numbers are 999 or 112. The Gardaí are available 24 hours a day.
Family support services are available to help you and your family deal with difficult situations like:
These supports may include counselling, support groups, social worker visits or working with family support workers. The support services will do all they can to make sure that you can stay with your family, if they think that is the best thing for you. You can get more information on these supports through Tusla.
For more information on abuse visit our Abuse section.
We are here to answer your questions and talk through your options. Our online chat service is for 16 to 25 year olds and is available Monday to Friday, 4pm to 8pm. Chat to us now about your situation.
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