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Thursday, 24th June 2021

2020 a devastating year for children says Ombudsman

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The Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon.

48 of complaints to the Ombudsman for Children’s Office in 2020 came from Louth 

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) has said that 2020 was a “devastating” year for children and has revealed that it received 48 or 4 per cent of its complaints from Co. Louth.

In its Annual Report, 2020 Childhood Paused, the OCO says it received 1,187 complaints about services provided to children in 2020.

“We heard heart-breaking stories of children with additional needs regressing and about the turmoil the uncertainty caused” the Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon said.

“Children were grappling with the digital divide and they worried about parents who had lost their jobs as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the economy. We know that this impacted children in Co. Louth and all over the country." 

“We do not know where every single one of our complaints comes from – some complaints relate to more than one area, or there can be more than one child involved”.

“However, we know for sure that 48 complaints came from Co. Louth. While this is not very surprising, based on population spread, it shows that we still have to work hard to let people in County Louth know that we are here.”

“In 2020, 6% of the complaints made to the OCO came directly from children, this is an increase from 3% in 2019. This increase can largely be attributed to those who contacted us in relation to education issues and is an indication of the level of upset among students. 100% of the children who contacted the OCO mentioned the impact of the pandemic on their mental health of children.

Once again, the main area of the public service people complained about in 2020 was education – making up 46% of complaints.

New issues that came up in 2020 included:

  • Remote learning and the digital divide
  • Lack of clarity about State examinations
  • Mental impact on young people
  • Calculated grades
  • Children in high risk households who feared bringing Covid-19 home
  • Impact on children with special educational needs

Dr Muldoon said there can be no return to “normal” for children after the pandemic adding that 2020 was a “devastating” year for children.

Dr. Muldoon encouraged children, parents or those working with children in Co. Louth to contact the OCO.

“The OCO offers a free, impartial service to anybody who thinks a child has been treated unfairly by a public body or Government funded organisation. We offer advice, help to resolve the issue as soon as possible and if necessary we will carry out an investigation.”

Visit www.oco.ie for information on how to contact the office or make a complaint or Freephone: 1800 20 20 40.

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