Child Mistreatment

It is an offence for any person who has the custody, charge or care of a child wilfully to assault, ill-treat, neglect, abandon or expose the child, or cause or procure or allow the child to be assaulted, ill-treated, neglected, abandoned or exposed, in a manner likely to cause unnecessary suffering or injury to the child’s health or seriously to affect his wellbeing.

A person who is the parent or guardian of a child and who is legally liable to maintain the child is presumed to have custody of the child.  As between parents, one person shall not be deemed to have ceased to have custody by reason only of the fact that he or she has deserted and does not reside with the other parent.

Any person to whose charge a child is committed by a person who has custody of the child shall be presumed to have charge of the child.  Any person exercising authority over and having actual control of a child is presumed to have care of the child.

Proceedings & Sanctions

A person convicted of the above offences is liable to a fine up to €1900 or imprisonment up to 12 months on summary conviction or both or an indictment a fine up to €12,697 or imprisonment up to seven years or both on a conviction on indictment.

A person may be convicted of this offence notwithstanding the death of the child in respect of whom the offence is committed or notwithstanding that the actual suffering or injury to the health of the child or the likelihood of the same was obviated by the action of another person.

On the trial of a person for the murder of a child of whom the person has the custody, charge or care, the court or jury may, if satisfied that the accused is guilty of the offence, find an offence under the above provisions in respect of that child, may find the accused guilty of that offence.

Child Neglect

A person is deemed to have neglected the child in a manner likely to cause the child unnecessary suffering or injury to his health or seriously affect his wellbeing if the person fails to provide adequate food, clothing, heating, medical aid or accommodation for the child, or if being unable to provide such, fails to take steps to have it provided under legislation relating to health, social welfare and housing.

References to a child’s health or wellbeing include references to his physical, mental and emotional health or wellbeing.  Ill-treatment of a child includes any frightening, bullying or threatening of the child.


It is an offence for a person to cause or procure a child or have custody, charge or care of a child, or allow a child to be in any street or public place, or to make house-to-house visits for the purpose of begging or receiving alms or of inducing the giving of alms, whether or not there is any pretence of singing, playing, performing, or offering anything for sale or otherwise.

If a person who has a child, who is charged with an offence under the above provision in his custody, charge and control, and it is proved that the child was in any street, or public place for any purpose above, it is to be presumed that the person who had custody, charge or care of the child allowed the child to do so, unless the contrary is proved.

A person guilty of the offence is subject for a first offence, to a fine of €317, or in a second or subsequent offence, €635.

A public place is a place to which the public has or is permitted to have access, whether as of right or by permission, with or without payment. A street includes any road, bridge, lane, footpath, square, alley, passage, or thoroughfare which is, for the time being, open to the public. Any ground or car park adjoining or open to a street is deemed part of the street.

Brothel & Prostution

A person is guilty of an offence if, having custody, charge or care of the child, he or she allows the child to reside in or frequent a brothel.  A person found guilty of the offence is liable to a fine on summary conviction up to €1900 or imprisonment up to 12 months or both.

A person is guilty of an offence if having custody, charge or care of a child if he causes or encourages unlawful sexual intercourse or buggery with the child or causes or encourages the seduction, prostitution, or sexual assault on the child.  A person found guilty of the offence is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine up to €31,743 or imprisonment up to 10 years or both.

A person shall be deemed to have caused or encouraged the above if he has knowingly allowed the child to consort with, or enter or continue in the employment of, any prostitute or keeper of a brothel.  In this context, a  child is a person under 17 years of age.  A keeper of a brothel is a person referred to in the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993 as such.

In the case of any of the above offences, it is not necessary for the child in respect of whom the offence was committed to be brought before the Court or to be present for all or part of the proceedings.  The Court may of its own motion or at the request of the parties, determine that it is necessary for the child be present for the proper disposal of the case.

Places of Entertainment

Where  entertainment for children or any entertainment to which the majority of persons attending are children is provided, the number of children who attend exceeds one hundred, and access to any part of the building in which children are accommodated is by stairs, escalator or lift or other mechanical means, it is the duty of the person who provides the entertainment

  • to station, keep stationed wherever necessary a sufficient number of adult attendants, properly instructed as to their duties, so as to prevent more children or more persons being admitted to any such place of the building than that part which can properly accommodate them,
  • to control the movement of the children or other persons admitted to such part while entering and leaving, and to take all other reasonable precautions for the safety of the children.

Where the occupier of a building permits, for reward or hire, the building to be used for the purpose of entertainment, he shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that the above provisions are complied with.

A person who fails to comply with any of the above obligations is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine up to €635 and imprisonment up to six months or both with higher sanctions in the case of subsequent offences.

A member of An Garda Síochána may enter any building in which he or she has reason to believe that entertainment is about to be or is being provided with a view to confirming whether the provisions of the Act have been complied with.  The legislation does not apply to any entertainment given in a private residence.


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Draft Articles; The articles on this website are in draft form and are subject to further review for typographical errors and, in some cases, updating and correction. It is intended to include references to the sources of materials and acknowledgements in the final version. The content of articles with [EU] in the title and some of the articles in the section on Agriculture are a reproduction of or are based on European or Irish public sector information.

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