A 2020 Children’s Ombudsman report found more than 120 children housed in hostels with no care staff after 5pm
A report detailing the sexual exploitation of young girls in State care is shocking but not surprising, according to Social Democrats Children Spokesperson Jennifer Whitmore.
Deputy Whitmore was speaking following the release of a new study, Protecting Against Predators, by researchers at UCD.
“The findings of this study are disturbing and disgusting. Girls as young as 12 are being horrifically abused and deliberately targeted by predators. According to a care worker interviewed by the researchers, what is reported in this study is “the tip of the iceberg”.
“Let’s be clear about what we are talking about here – children, in State care, being groomed, sexually abused and raped. There should be no ambiguity, or uncertainty, about the need for the professionals caring for these children to immediately report concerns for their safety to the relevant authorities.
“The findings of the report are not the first time the government has been alerted to the sexual abuse of children in State care. The government has been on notice of this abhorrent abuse since at least 2020 when Tusla was notified of concerns about a sexual exploitation ring targeting girls in State care.
“Separately, a 2020 report by the Children’s Ombudsman found more than 120 children, separated from their parents and seeking asylum in Ireland, were housed in hostels with no care staff after 5pm.
“The government must now clarify if children are still being housed in unregistered hostels with no care after 5pm; if it will empower HIQA to conduct an audit of these care homes and hostels; and outline all of the protection measures and procedures in place at these residences to protect children in State care from sexual exploitation.”