Thursday, May 21, 2009

Irish Society Still Does Not Care About Poor Children

Irish society is fooling itself completely if its believes the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse solely describe the actions of an uncaring Ireland of times past. In my experience, it is clear that we have learnt very little from our past and continue to pass life sentences of poverty, disadvantage and marginalisation onto thousands of Irish children. Any self-congratulatory reflections arising from this report as to how far our country has come, must be viewed in the dim light of the following facts:

  • In 2007, there were 7.4% of children living in consistent poverty in Ireland. This amounts to over 76,000 children.
  • 30% of children living in disadvantaged areas have basic reading problems.
  • Up to 1,000 children do not transfer from primary to secondary school.
  • 15% of young people leave school without a Leaving Certificate and 3% with no qualification at all.
  • The National Educational Welfare Board has no remit to cater for children under the age of six, however poor their school attendance rate
  • The National Educational Psychological Service provides no clinical or behaviour assessment support for children, completely disregarding the emotional health of school children
  • Children are being sucked into gangland crime at increasingly earlier ages as society completely fails to come to grips with the drugs epidemic in our land
I note that one of the key recommendations of the commission is that a monument should be erected in honour of those who suffered emotional, physical and sexual abuse in our school system. Surely a more lasting monument would be to ensure that no Irish child ever feels the coldness and inhumanity of poverty and disadvantage ever again?