I mention, in particular, the young swimmers who were horribly abused a number of years ago at the hands of coaches. We saw the ineffectiveness of the organisation involved to deal with it. I know that some of the young women in question are still suffering badly today.
We know that the effects of abuse and neglect suffered by children are carried into adulthood. In many cases, such abuse affects their lives and relationships with others negatively. We know that some of those who have been abused will abuse and have abused others. In Dublin Central, the inner city, we know the pain associated with abuse and how it has brought abused persons into addiction, self-harm and suicide.
Childhood is supposed to be a time of innocence. It should be a time of fun and enjoyment, a time to be care-free, with no worries about mortgages or making a living. The abusers in society rob children of the care-free abandon of childhood, leaving them physically, emotionally, psychologically and mentally scarred. For me, what is important about this legislation is what it will do to prevent this from happening and, in the event of it happening, the prompt redress provided for. As with every plan, it may appear good on paper but not in application. Likewise, child safeguarding statements will not automatically mean that children will be guarded.
It must be acknowledged that the majority of abuse takes place within the child’s family and home. I hope the Bill will be strong in that regard. Perhaps a timeframe should be set out in the Bill for a review of the legislation to see if it is working and the consequences thereof. I welcome the establishment of the EU-wide hotline for missing children. It is another progressive step in this area. On the proposed interdepartmental group, it is important that community groups working directly with young people are represented on it.
Child abuse and neglect require a multi-pronged approach that includes not only legislation but also funding for the vital resources and supports required in dealing with a family crisis, homelessness or a housing crisis. It is important that as a result of this greater awareness of child abuse in society there are in place programmes and plans for dealing with cases when they are reported.