For Adults & Professionals

Disclosures Do’s & Don’ts

It can be a difficult time for both a child and their family when they come forward to speak about what they have experienced. To help the situation here is a list of do’s and don’ts for when a child discloses abuse.

Do's

  • Stay Calm
    Try not to show your anger, shock or embarrassment. It will help the young person if they know that you are proud of them and have it in hand.
  • Believe
    Take what they say seriously. Children rarely lie about abuse.
  • Reassure them
    They may feel responsible for or guilty about the abuse.
  • Emphasise
    That it is not their fault, and that you’re glad they’ve told you.
  • Listen
    Please do not press for details.
  • Disclose to the Authorities
    Tell the young person that you must tell someone to make sure they are safe. Contact your local duty social worker or Garda. You can follow the links below.
    – TUSLA – Where to Report
    – An Garda Síochána – Where to Report
  • Record
    What they’ve said as soon as possible after the discussion. Record what they say word for word, using their words and descriptions.

Don'ts

  • Don’t tell a story about other people
    No one experiences abuse the same way.
  • Don’t promise to keep secrets
    You will have to pass the disclosure on to the authorities.
  • Don’t tell them…
    …that everything will be fixed straight away.
  • Don’t ask leading questions
    It is not your responsibility to investigate. Any questions should be for the purpose of clarification only.
  • Don’t tell everyone
    You should treat the information confidentially, sharing it only with people who have a right to hear it.
  • Don’t make judgmental statements
    The young person may still like or love the person. Child sexual abuse can lead to complex feelings.

Special Measures

Children and young people are given special measures to keep them safe during the process. They are:

  • The right to have their statement recorded with a specially trained Garda.
  • The right to provide their evidence from a video link room instead of the court room.
  • All barristers and judges must remove their professional garb, such as wigs and gowns.
  • Under specific conditions, the right to have an intermediary to assist them during the trial.

These special measures are laid out in the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017. Click here to view the full act.

What is an Intermediary?

Under the special measures laid out in The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, victims and witnesses can avail of the use of an intermediary during criminal proceedings. An intermediary must be a registered professional and recognised by the Department of Justice to work in the Irish courts. Intermediaries are trained with specialist skills to assess communication abilities and needs. They provide advice and recommendations to support communication participation.

The role of an intermediary is to facilitate effective communication and assist individuals with communication difficulties in presenting evidence. These communication issues could be due to age, mental health issues, intellectual difficulties or trauma. Intermediaries can assist from the early stages of the process, such as Gardaí interviews, as well as during the trial process.

It is important to note that intermediaries are not emotional support nor an advocate for the individual. Their goal is to assist an individual in providing their best evidence. They are independent and court appointed so they must remain impartial throughout the process.

​The Department of Justice and University of Limerick have developed the Professional Diploma in Intermediary Studies which allows graduates to be placed on an intermediary panel that the Irish courts can draw from to work in the Irish Justice system. Click here for more information on the course.

The Trial Process

Arraignment – The indictment is the formal accusation that a person has committed a crime. The indictment is read out during the arraignment to the accused person and they say if they are ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. The trial will take one of two pathways depending if there is a guilty or not guilty plea.

Guilty Plea – If the accused pleads guilty the case will go straight to a sentencing date. During the sentencing the judge is informed of the facts of the case. This includes professional reports about the accused and a Victim Impact Statement from the young person and/or family. Afterwards, the judge will think about everything and will decide a penalty for the accused person. This usually happens on a different day from the first part of sentencing.

Not Guilty Plea – If the accused pleads not guilty, the case will go to trial. A jury of 12 people from the public will be selected and the trial can begin.

Useful Links

Citizens Information

Citizens Information

Garda Victim Services

Garda Victim Services

Director of Public Prosecutions

Director of Public Prosecutions

Children's Rights Alliance

Victims Charter

Victims Charter

Children First - Túsla

Children First - Túsla

Useful Links

Citizens Information

Citizens Information

Garda Victim Services

Garda Victim Services

Director of Public Prosecutions

Director of Public Prosecutions

Children's Rights Alliance

Victims Charter

Victims Charter

Children First - Túsla

Children First - Túsla

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