Mrs McAleese said society was occasionally reminded of its own failures and the dangers facing children.
"Every so often a dreadful case reveals to us a realm of failure and of progress still to be made, and importantly a realm of suffering still being endured by children,'' the President said.
"On the days when we read of the failures of families, of parents, of carers, of communities, of child care and child protection services; on days when we acknowledge that children, who depended on us to look out for them, slipped through visible gaps; we are brought close despair,'' Mrs McAleese added.
"Giving into despair is not an option. It does not change one whit the reality that children, though they do not always know it, are depending on us to be their champions, their advocates, their voices, their defenders.''
Mrs McAleese added: "Those who abuse them in any way, subtle or brutish, rely on our silence, our give-uppery, to create the landscape in which they can operate with impunity.''
Mrs McAleese claimed society must have the proper legal and administrative supports to ensure communities intervene at the first sign of abuse.
"A caring cradling starts with, but does not end with, a loving home,'' Mrs McAleese said.
"It needs an administrative and legal infrastructure that offers accessible and timely protection to children who are at risk.''
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