Child begging a 'significant' problem

A boy begging in an alleyway off Dawson Street in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

A boy begging in an alleyway off Dawson Street in Dublin. Photograph: Frank Miller

Children begging on the streets of Irish towns and cities remains a significant problem despite a slight reduction in sightings this year, the ISPCC said today.

According to a study by the Leanbh programme of the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), there were 756 sightings of children begging in the past 12 months, a drop of 3.4 per cent over the incidences recorded in the previous year.

The total is a large fall on the numbers reported when Leanbh was founded in 1997. In that year, some 2,872 sightings of child beggars were reported.

Leanbh reports that there are 181 children actively involved in begging on Irish streets and that some 109 immigrant children have received help from the charity in the past year.


Leanbh was established to provide round-the-clock support and protection for street children. It tries to tackle the problem through the teaching of positive parenting, child support and public education. It is part-funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform.

The charity says children are often forced to beg on the streets by parents or relatives.

Such children are deprived of an education and are placed at risk of emotional, physical or sexual abuse or exploitation.

Children who beg are also at greater risk of alcohol and drug abuse or becoming involved in crime.

Leanbh said today it is also seriously concerned at the number of children from immigrant communities who have gone missing. It says it has worked with a number of children who have been trafficked into Ireland from other countries.

Kilian Doyle

Kilian Doyle

Kilian Doyle is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times