CHILDREN WITH DISABILITIES can be and are abused. They are at a significantly higher risk of abuse than a child with no disability, while multiple disability compounds the possibility of both abuse and neglect. In our society disabled children tend to be treated differently from those who are non-disabled, often isolated physically, geographically and socially. They are more dependent on others for their care and more likely to spend time in residential care. Children with disabilities suffer abuse in all areas of life, whether in the home or at school, in foster or respite care, a hospital or hostel. Wherever it occurs abuse has the same damaging and long-term consequences for disabled children as it does for everyone else.
Disabled children have a wide range of difficulties from the mild to the severe and the simple to the complex, which include physical, sensory (that is, hearing and vision) and/or learning difficulties. Children with learning difficulties comprise the largest single group of disabled children, and their problems will range from mild through moderate to severe. Many have multiple disabilities. In order to safeguard the disabled child it is important to appreciate both the nature and impact of a child's disability as well as the type of abuse and its effect on the child.
Abuse can be implicated in the cause of disability. Some children who