Ireland is starting to fall behind on children's rights, the Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon has warned.
He was speaking as his office launched its annual report for 2022, which saw 1,812 complaints made.
Education was once again the most complained about issue - at 30% - with bullying, expulsion or suspension, and special education resources featuring in many of the complaints.
The Ombudsman for Children's Office (OCO) said its work showed Ireland is starting to fall behind "on many issues."
Two major OCO reports to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have raised concern about the standard of living and child poverty issues, mental health services, the lack of inclusive school places for all children and the State's failure to integrate children’s rights into legislation.
The report also features stories of some of the children the OCO worked with last year.
This includes Aisling, who said that after making an allegation of bullying with a sexual dimension, the school made her feel responsible, and that she was bullied by other students for reporting the abuse.
The OCO took action and the school eventually apologised to Aisling with the board of management updating their policies.
Another child, 10-year-old Chloe, developed an eating disorder during the pandemic and had to be tube-fed.
Chloe's family came to the OCO as they were not happy with how her case was handled.
The HSE apologised to Chloe's family and the OCO recommended changes to improve the system.
'Not where we should be'
Dr Muldoon said the last two years have been the busiest ever for his office.
"In 2022 we received over 1,800 complaints across the areas of education, health, justice, finance, as well as complaints relating to Tusla and local authorities," he said
"Our annual report this year is called 'Falling Behind' because we wanted to highlight how Ireland is doing in relation to children’s rights.
"Unfortunately, we’re not where we should be".
Dr Muldoon said the Government has to move on child protection legislation.
"The Taoiseach has said that he wants Ireland to be the best country in Europe to be a child," he said.
"If this is to happen we need to finally incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into legislation - 30 years after its ratification.
"We also need to totally reform our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, CAMHS, which we know are hugely dysfunctional and failing our most vulnerable children.
"Changes also need to be made to provide inclusive education for all children in Ireland," he added.