Over 1,500 kids were victims of sexual violence in Ireland in 2020

By John Kierans

A shocking 1,562 children were victims of sexual violence in Ireland last year.

There were 1,114 girls and 448 boys who were either raped or sexually assaulted, figures from the Central Statistics Office’s crime unit reveal.

Of these, 533 girls and 98 boys reported the attacks to gardai before a year had passed.

But a further 581 underaged girls and 366 boys waited for over a year and often longer before telling the authorities.

The number of people who reported historical sexual crime last year rose from 1,089 in 2019 to 1,103.

But at least a quarter of these occurred 10 years earlier.

Four out of five sexual violence victims in Ireland in 2020 were female.

But more than three out of five of every attack victims were under 18 at the time they reported the offences.

A further 562 victims were aged between 18 and 29, while 410 victims were over 30.

Almost half of those raped or sexually assaulted (44%) during the previous year were children underage.

Gardai have urged anyone who has been sexually assaulted or abused to contact them immediately.

Louth Fine Gael TD Fergus O'Dowd said the amount of sexual violence against children is appalling and many of the victims will sadly be left traumatised for life.

He said: “This abuse was hidden for years and now thankfully it is being reported. Hopefully the gardai can catch and convict the perpetrators.

“The Government has given an extra €5 million in the Budget to help the victims of domestic and sexual violence and to beef up numbers in the Garda Divisional Protection units that deal with many of these shocking cases.”

Just last week, Rape Crisis Network Ireland said it has seen a doubling of contacts to its helplines over the last decade.

The statistics provide a wide overview of the sexual violence experienced by survivors who contacted the network’s seven rape crisis centres and helplines during 2020.

The report shows that callers spent much longer on the phone with crisis staff and volunteers last year, with the proportion on the line for more than 35 minutes rising from 1% in 2019 to 10% in 2020. Rape crisis counsellors spent a total of 1,104 hours on helpline calls last year, compared to 647 hours in 2019.

The service attributes this increase to a variety of factors, including the network’s more flexible working patterns and more direct access for survivors to counsellors during the pandemic.

However, the stay-at-home measures resulted in the “erosion or removal of survivors’ coping strategies” for dealing with pre-existing trauma, the report notes, and there was also an increased need for mental health resilience due to the lockdowns.


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