Children taken into care after eldest allegedly beaten with a belt

Young child tells social worker father smacked her face and caused a nose bleed


A young girl who told social workers that her father beat her with a belt after she had “misbehaved” at school has been taken into the care of the Child and Family Agency along with her two younger siblings.

Giving evidence in a late-night emergency care order application this week, a social worker told Judge Marie Quirke of the Dublin District Family Court that he was called to the girl’s school after she had shown her teacher bruises and told her she had “learnt her lesson” about her misbehaviour.

The social worker said he interviewed the girl: she told him she had come home from school and her father had smacked her across the face, causing her nose to bleed.

Girl struck with belt

The child told the social worker her father was “very, very angry” and shouting at her. He also tried to hold her in position when she tried to escape. She said her mother came to the door and told him to stop hitting her but he did not.

The girl told the social worker her father then made her face the wall in her room and then downstairs so he could be sure she was facing the wall.

He also told her “not to bring those things out of the house”, which she said meant she was not to tell anyone what happened.

The child also disclosed that her mother left her home alone with her two younger siblings and hit them with a spatula. She also said she and her sister were told to hit their sibling who is a toddler.

Gardaí interviewed the parents before removing the children under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991.

The children were examined at a hospital and a paediatric consultant found the eldest girl had bruises on her upper thighs and buttocks.

Some bruises were “linear” and consistent with being beaten with an implement.

The court was told the parents had been before the courts in 2011 when an emergency care order was refused on the basis they undertook not to use physical violence against their children and to attend support services.

Giving evidence, the father admitted he had been “agitated” by his daughter’s behaviour and “the bubble just burst”.

Not talking to daughter

He had been trying his hardest to keep his promise not to use physical chastisement, he said, but had his own stresses.

When he heard what his daughter said about him he “felt like a monster”.

The mother told Judge Quirke she had left the children alone on two occasions to go to a nearby post office. She also said she hadn’t been talking to her daughter at the time of the incident because of her previous behaviour.

She was shopping for food when the incident occurred, she said. When she came home her husband was upset and her daughter was facing the wall and she felt she “shouldn’t intrude”.

Asked if she believed her daughter’s version of what happened, she said she “did not believe half of what her daughter said”.

Judge Quirke said she was satisfied the parents were honourable and doing their best, but “the longer the truth is denied, the harder it is to fix it”.

She granted the emergency care order for eight days.