Children’s rights are very often overlooked. The fact that children cannot advocate for themselves means that their rights often fall between the cracks. Children are protected under international law (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child) and also under Irish law (Child Care Act 1991 & Children First Act 2015).
The Irish legislation isn’t as strong as one would hope. The 2015 Act is geared more towards protection of those surrounding the circumstance instead of the actual child i.e. protection of people who knew about the abuse but said nothing, as well as obligating those with a “personal relationship” to the child to report. The reporting procedure is quite unrealistic and will result in a massive backlog.
The term “best interests” of the child is used constantly in legislation. There is no clear definition as to what this actually is. What amounts to the best interest of the child? Judicial opinion obviously fluctuates and can result in uncertainty.
Irish law does allow for abuse to occur following one specific incident, unlike Australian legislation that requires continuous acts to occur.
Child abuse of disabled children is unfortunately far more common than one would think. The lack of training to deal with disabilities such as autism means that teachers and carers get frustrated and may use abusive techniques to deal with a child’s behaviour.
Children are particularly vulnerable members of society and need to be protected ! Their rights cannot be violated !