What happens if I make a report about possible CSA?
- If you have a concern for a child you will be advised to inform your local social work department or the Gardaí. There is a requirement that in particular cases the Gardaí and Social Workers will be in communication about this report in the interest of keeping your child and other children safe.
- You will be advised to contact the Duty Social Worker in your area to inform them of your concerns. A CARI helpline operator or therapist can help you with getting this contact information.
- Depending on the area that you live in once you report the Social Worker will ask to meet with you. They are then likely to ask to speak with your child in your presence in order to gain an understanding of your child’s needs for safety and support. The Social Workers that carry this out will be trained in dealing with children and will be gentle in their approach.
- It is unlikely that asking your child these questions will cause any further trauma or upset. Your child may be glad to see that adults are doing something to help.
- Should you live within an area of Ireland that has access to a child assessment unit your child may be invited to attend for an assessment. In these units they have a designated room that is child friendly to allow your child to feel relaxed and be able to talk. These assessments may need to take place over a few meetings.
Reporting to the Gardaí
- When a concern is reported to the Gardaí they are legally obliged to pass this concern onto the local social work department.
- Depending on the circumstances the Gardaí may initially interview your child in the safety of your home. They may also need to take a statement from you or whomever your child may have disclosed to.
- The Gardaí are then likely to interview your child in their specialised interview unit. The Gardaí involved in interviewing your child will be highly trained and understanding.
- This interview will be videoed in case the information might need to be used as evidence. Should the Gardaí feel that they have enough evidence to proceed with a case they will then send your file to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions).
- Not all cases are sent to the DPP. This may be due to the Gardaí feeling there is not enough evidence to prosecute, however this does not mean that the Gardaí do not believe the incident has occurred.
- At some instances a professional may feel a medical assessment may be beneficial in establishing whether your child has experienced abuse. Medical assessments are not always necessary as physical evidence only lasts a short time.
- It is important to know that your child may be involved in an assessment and that you should not question your child or direct them to say what happened. Children often want to please adults and because of this can agree when an adult makes a suggestion e.g. asking did Uncle Bobby do this to you? Did he touch you in your privates?
Leading questions can affect the process of an investigation and may cause a child’s assessment to receive an inconclusive outcome.