Children and Young People
As a child or 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 child/young person, and Ireland has made a promise to the United Nations to promote these rights for all children and young people in Ireland - further details available here.
Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children is a document which helps organisations and people protect children. It explains what abuse is and tells everyone who is involved in the lives of children and 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. You can read the Children First Guidance here (In this Guidance, ‘a child’ means a person under the age of 18 years, who is not or has not been married.)
The Children First Act 2015 says that adults who work with children and young people have a legal responsibility to pass on child protection and welfare concerns to Tusla - Child and Family Agency. It also says that many organisations must have Child Safeguarding Statements that show how they plan to keep you safe. You can ask the organisation for a copy of their Child Safeguarding Statement.
It is important that children and young people understand that no one should keep child abuse a secret and that everyone has a role to keep children young people safe.
Some people can hurt children and there may be times when you feel that you are 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. Child abuse is wrong and it is a crime. You have a right to be safe.
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 Social Worker in Tusla - click here for contact details. The 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.