The abused child?
in Precarious childhood in post-independence Ireland
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This chapter investigates the physical and sexual violence to which children were subjected in twentieth-century Ireland. The Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), in spite of its founding mission to protect children from ‘cruelty,’ rarely dealt with explicit cases of cruelty, abuse, or assault in the course of their daily rounds. The use of corporal punishment in national schools is then discussed. Children were subject to a significant degree of sexual violence in twentieth-century Ireland. Sentencing and conviction patterns show that sexual crimes against children were not treated as serious, and no one recognized the potentially harmful long-term effects of sexual abuse on children. Irish society at all levels tolerated a degree of violence against children that was striking in its regularity and routineness.


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