Many children in detention hit by loss and neglect
More than a third of children in detention do not have at least one parent in their lives, according to new research.
A fifth are considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect prior to being sent to the Oberstown Children Detention Campus and there are self-harm concerns involving nearly a quarter of the children.
More than a fifth of those at the centre, located in Lusk, north Co Dublin, are members of the Travelling community.
Oberstown is the national facility for children aged 1218 who have been sentenced in relation to a criminal offence or who are in custody awaiting trial.
A snapshot report from quarter one 2018 shows there are 92 young people in the centre — 52 on detention and 40 on remand.
Almost half of them were in for theft and fraud offences, many with multiple offences. Some 28 children (30%) had assault (including sexual assault) offences.
Three out of 10 children (28) came from Dublin, while 15 came from Cork, followed by Meath (7) and Limerick (6). Of the 92 children, four were aged 13 on entering, 11 were aged 14, and 31 were aged 15.
The report shows:
52% have a mental health need – and almost half of those have a current or past diagnosis of ADHD;
49% are not engaged in education beforehand; 20% of the children have a diagnosed learning difficulty;
72% are considered to have a substance misuse problems;
47% demonstrate challenging behaviour
Lena Timoney, deputy director of care services in Oberstown, said: “The data we are publishing outlines the significant challenge in assisting young people who have complex needs and risks, and it will help inform services and interventions.”
The research shows 36% of the children have suffered the loss of one or both parents, either through death, imprisonment or no longterm contact. Furthermore, 40% of the children are either in care or have significant involvement with Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.
Of the 26 children in care prior to detention, half of them had been in three or more placements and the bulk of them had mental health needs.
The report said a fifth of all 92 children are considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect prior to detention — almost half of these at the hands of their own family.
It said there are concerns about self-harm in respect of 21 children (23%), and that most of these also have substance misuse concerns.
The chairwoman of Oberstown board, Ursula Kilkelly, said: “What emerges from this data is a picture of significant adversity and complex need among young people in detention, which often requires a multi-agency response.”