Research worldwide has revealed that children with disabilities are more likely to suffer abuse than their peers without disabilities.
This cruel reality covers neglect, physical and emotional maltreatment, and extends to sexual abuse. And is put down to society’s response to disability.
The abuse can exist within families who simply aren’t coping, and also in care institutions. It also extends to the non-reporting of abuse by caregivers, or those who observe the abuse.
For children who are kept out of sight, bruises, broken bones, head injuries and other outward marks can be kept secret. The obvious indicator of abuse is behavioural changes. But this can be attributed to the disability rather than the abuse. Also, children with intellectual disabilities reporting abuse can be considered easily suggestible or untrustworthy, especially when the abuse may seem improbable.
Vulnerability to abuse and violence runs across children with physical and mental disabilities, children with behaviour disorders, and children with speech/language disorders, hearing impairment, learning impairments, and Attention Deficit Disorder.
Consequences of abuse may be not only physical in nature, but include damage to the central nervous system, injury to internal organs, burns, malnutrition, and trauma to the head (as in Shaken Baby Syndrome). Then add long-term emotional trauma. Sadly, it’s also possible for children who have never had a disability, to become disabled through abuse.
Prevention of, attention to, addressing, and resolving abuse for all children should be a priority of any caring society – but even more important for children more vulnerable than most . . . those with disabilities.
If this is a priority for you, please support WCAPD by clicking here now. We are here to take your caring forward to where it’s needed most.