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08 Dec 2021

24 Kilkenny complaints made to Ombudsman for Children’s Office last year

Education disruption a key factor

Kilkenny complaints to Ombudsman for Children’s Office sees year-on-year increase

File Photo

The Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) has revealed that 24 (2%) of its complaints originated from Co. Kilkenny in 2020.

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr. Niall Muldoon said that these figures fall generally in-line with national rate of calls per population.

“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," he said.

"However, we know for sure that 24 complaints came from Co. Kilkenny. While this is not very surprising, based on population spread, it shows that we still have to work hard to let people in Co. Kilkenny 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. In 2019, 49% of complaints were about education.

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.

 “2020 was a devastating year for children," he said.

"We heard heart-breaking stories of children with additional needs regressing and about the turmoil the uncertainty caused.

"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. Kilkenny and all over the country." 

Dr. Muldoon encouraged children, parents or those working with children in Co. Kilkenny to contact the OCO if they have an issue they office might be able to resolve.

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