Boy's family fear for his welfare, court told


The Health Service Executive does not have the resources to find an appropriate residential therapeutic placement for a 13-year-old, who has tried to kill himself three times, the Dublin Children's Court heard yesterday.

The boy, who had been in a school for children with special education needs, has been involved in suicide attempts and incidents of self-harm, and his family fear for his welfare, Judge Angela Ní Chondúin was told.

His teacher and mother also told the court yesterday that the health services had done nothing to help the boy in the four years they have been appealing for their assistance.

The out-of-control boy is before the court arising out of a charge of handling a stolen bicycle.

He was remanded in custody in April to the Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre, over breaches of bail conditions compelling him to obey a nightly curfew and attend school.

His mother and his teacher told the judge that the boy needed help from the State, which was not being provided.

"I've been trying to get assistance for four years. As a child he has always been difficult to handle.

"He has gone further out of control and does not realise he needs help. He has not got the help he needs," the mother said.

She also added that the only intervention she had received had been as a result of her son being arrested for a criminal offence.

The arrest led to him being remanded in custody where a psychological and educational assessment was undertaken.

This assessment concluded that he needed to be placed in a secure high-support therapeutic environment such as the Ballydowd special care unit.

The boy's teacher told the court she had had grave concerns for his welfare for the last three years.

She said that in the last two years she, with the boy's mother, had attended numerous meetings with social services about him, but nothing had come out of it.

She described the boy's behaviour as "very extreme" and went on to tell the judge he had tried to commit suicide three times in school.

Once she had brought him to a self-harm clinic in a Dublin hospital after a suicide attempt in which he tried to throw himself through a window.

At the self-harm clinic, the teacher was told that the boy was too difficult to deal with and was also too young to be put on medication.

She said that all the boy's family had put huge effort into helping him, but they needed specialised assistance.

Ms Rose Sweeney of the Special Residential Services Board told the court that she had received a report from the Health Service Executive (HSE) concerning the boy.

The report said that the HSE was aware that the teenager needed a secure placement in a therapeutic facility but it did not have adequate resources and appropriate residential placements available at present.

Judge Ni Chonduin remanded the boy in custody in a detention centre for another week.

She added that by doing so she was putting him in a place that was not suitable, but he could not be "out on the streets" either.