Number of children living in poverty up


THE NUMBERS of children experiencing consistent poverty increased last year for the first time since 2006, according to the State of the Nation’s Children report published yesterday.

The report, published every two years by the Department of Health, is a compilation of various sources of information on children’s lives.

It shows a decline in child deaths and teen births. However it shows an increase in abuse, poverty and numbers waiting for social housing. Traveller children, immigrant children and children with a disability or chronic illness fare less well than the general population of children across a range of markers.

The number of children living in consistent poverty had fallen from 11 per cent in 2006 to 6.3 per cent in 2008. However in 2009 it increased to 8.7 per cent. Children living in the southeast were more likely to experience poverty with 18.5 per cent living in consistent poverty compared with 4.1 per cent in the mideast. Levels of consistent poverty for children in the midlands stood at 13.9 per cent. Midlands children were also three times more likely to be at risk of poverty than those in Dublin. State-wide, 18.6 per cent of children were at risk of poverty.

The number of households with children in need of social housing increased by almost a quarter between 2005 and 2008 to 27,704, with the largest percentage of those living in Dublin (just under 30 per cent).

The number of confirmed cases of child abuse increased by more than 20 per cent between 2006 and 2008 to 2,164. The majority of cases related to neglect (44.6 per cent), followed by cases of physical abuse (22 per cent), emotional abuse (20.1 per cent) and sexual abuse at 13.4 per cent.

Longford-Westmeath had the highest percentage of confirmed abuse cases at 18.2 per cent, followed by Dublin southwest ( 10.2 per cent). Cavan had no recorded cases. Although Wexford had just 3 per cent of all cases of abuse, almost half related to sex abuse.

Traveller children, immigrant children and children with a disability or chronic illness were more likely to be bullied in school. In 2006, the most recent figures available, 24.5 per cent of children aged nine to 17 reported being bullied. For Travellers that figure jumped to 28.8 per cent, while 29.5 per cent of immigrant children said they were bullied and 29.9 per cent of sick and disabled children reported bullying.

Almost one-quarter of seven-year-olds are either overweight or obese, according to the report.

Minister of State for Children Barry Andrews said at the launch of the document yesterday he regrets not doing more to tackle childhood obesity during his term in office.