Child Protection

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Children First

Children First: National Guidance for the Protection and Welfare of Children [2011]provides the national guidance for the protection and welfare of children in Ireland.

The guidance is the roadmap to help parents, professionals,organisations and the general public to identify and report child abuse and welfare concerns.

Society has a duty of care towards children and everyone should be alert to the possibility that children with whom they are in contact may be being abused or be at risk of abuse.   You can find out more general information in respect of Children First here or you can examine Children First from your perspective by clicking on an option below.


The main responsibility for the care and protection of children rests with their parents/carers. The aim of Children First National Guidance 2011 is to promote the safety and well-being of your child whether they are at home, in school, in hospital and participating in recreational activities such as sports clubs, music lessons, etc.

Children First puts the best interests of the child first.   As parents, we cannot be with our children all of the time.  Children First places an obligation on the other people in your child’s life to put in place procedures to keep your child safe.  You can ask to see the child protection policy for any organisation, activity, group or club that your child is participating in.

Some parents/carers, for a range of reasons, are not able to provide adequate care for their children. These families need support and assistance. A minority of these families require intensive assessment and direct interventions to ensure the safety and well-being of their children. Early intervention into a family situation where children are at risk of harm is the best way to protect children and so enable a family to remain together. Children First puts in place procedures to identify and protect children who are being harmed or are at risk of harm.

Select an option below for further information and support:

General Public

Anyone can report a concern about a child.  If you have any concerns about a child you should report it to the Child and Family Agency. A report can be made in person, by telephone or in writing. Any member of the public who has a concern about a child can contact the local social work duty service in the area where the child lives for advice about reporting your concerns.

If a child is in danger outside office hours you can contact the Gardai.

Under The Protection of Persons Reporting Child Abuse Act 1998, so long as you report what you believe is true and it is done in good faith you cannot be sued.

Select an option below for further information and support:

Young People

As 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 young person, and Ireland has made a promise to the United Nations  to promote these rights for all young people in Ireland.

The Children First: National Guidance was developed to help protect children and young people where there are abuse and/or welfare concerns. It explains what abuse is and tells everyone who is involved in the lives of 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.

‘A child means a person under the age of 18 years, excluding a person who is or has been married’ (Children First, 2.1.2)

Regrettably there are people who hurt children. In some cases, you may be 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.

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 Duty Social Worker in the Child and Family Agency.  The Duty 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.

There is a new law on the way to make sure that young people are further protected and kept safe from harm. This information page will be updated when the legislation is available

Organisations and individuals working with children

If you or your organisation provides activities or services to children and families,Children First 2011 advises you that you have a corporate duty and responsibility to safeguard the children in your care

All organisations involved with children have an obligation to provide them with the highest possible standard of care in order to promote their well-being and safeguard them from abuse.  Some organisations may also be legally responsible for their failure to provide adequate care and safeguards for children in their care.

Select an option below for further information and support

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