As a young person you have the right to be kept safe from harm, and it is the responsibility of your parents and guardians to make sure that they protect you. This is one of the many rights that you have as a young person, and Ireland has made a promise to the United Nations to promote these rights for all young people in Ireland.
The Children First: National Guidance was developed to help protect children and young people where there are abuse and/or welfare concerns. It explains what abuse is and tells everyone who is involved in the lives of young people - like parents, teachers, doctors Gardai, and social workers - what they must do if they think a child or young person is being abused.
‘A child means a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married’ (Children First, 2.1.2)
Regrettably there are people who hurt children. In some cases, you may be at risk of harm from someone you know or love. This could be your parent(s), grandparent(s), Aunt or Uncle, cousin, boyfriend/girlfriend, school friends or someone else in your life. It could be someone who is under 18 themselves.
If you are being harmed or abused by someone you know it could be hard for you to tell. However it is very important that you do tell so that you can get help.
What can I do?
As a young person you have a right to be protected from harm. If you believe you are being abused, at risk of being abused or worried that someone you know is being harmed you should talk to an adult you can trust. This could be a parent, another family member, a teacher or someone involved in your life who will listen. You can also talk to your local Duty Social Worker in the Child and Family Agency. The Duty Social Worker has a legal responsibility to protect you and keep you safe.
If at any stage you are scared and believe you are in danger you should talk to your local Gardaí by calling 999. The Gardai also have a special legal responsibility to keep you safe.
There is a new law on the way to make sure that young people are further protected and kept safe from harm. This information page will be updated when the legislation is available