Fears migrant children are being targeted by sexual predators | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey

A new report highlighting how children in State care are being targeted by sexual predators needs to be advanced with research into the experience of migrants, according to one of the report’s authors.

Dr Mary Canning is one of three authors who compiled the Protecting Against Predators report published on Thursday by the Sexual Exploitation Research Project at University College Dublin.

The report is calling for an inspection of residential care institutions by the Health Information and Quality Authority (Hiqa) to assess the risks to resident children. 

It highlighted that children and young people in State care in Ireland are being targeted in an orchestrated manner for sexual exploitation and are being taxied to hotels around the country.

Dr Canning said: “There are voices missing in this report — more work has to be done. The migrant organisations are missing because we had the war in Ukraine hitting at the same time and they were so busy dealing with that. They wanted to get involved but they didn’t have the time.” 

Dr Canning said the researchers did come to get a sense in their work on the project that sexual exploitation of children and young people from migrant backgrounds was an emerging issue.

According to Tusla, from January to November 2021, there were 117 placements of children and young people, 72% of whom were aged between 15 and 17 years, in emergency hotel accommodation.

Dr Canning said: “Tusla in their 2022 report, reported that there were 117 children placed in emergency hotel accommodation and 62 asylum children were missing. 45 remained unaccounted for when we were putting together this information.” 

Dr Canning said there was a need for much research in the area, particularly relating to trafficking for sexual exploitation, adding it affects not just migrant children but also Irish children.

She added: “There is a lot of training going on but more is needed in this area.” 

Dr Canning said there was an “incredible challenge facing the people expected to protect some of the most vulnerable children in our country”.

“What they are witnessing in terms of targeting, grooming and sexual exploitation of children is harrowing. The need for policies, training and other supports to assist those on the frontline have been laid bare for all to see.”

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