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Disabled children and child protection

Stalker, K. and Lerpiniere, Jennifer and McArthur, K. and Lister, P. (2009) Disabled children and child protection. In: The 10th NNDR (Nordic Network on Disability Research) conference, 2009-04-02 - 2009-04-04. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

This paper will present emerging findings from a study, funded by the Sir Halley Stewart Trust, which aims to scope current knowledge about child protection and disabled children, review social policy and practice in the field and pilot ways of seeking disabled children'sviews about child protection services. The research is due to complete in May 2009. The paper willfocus on 'headline' findings from the literature review and interviews with 'key informants.'Method: The literature review is being guided by a five-part framework for scoping studies(Arksey and O'Malley 2005). This involves developing the research questions, identifying relevantstudies, study selection, charting the data and lastly, collating, summarising and reporting theresults. The interviews with key informants will explore how effectively child protection policiesaround the UK are addressing the needs of disabled children. The interviews will be conducted faceto face, using a semi-structured interview schedule, with representatives from government, socialwork, police, health, education and disability and children's organisations.Emerging results: The largest study conducted about disabled children and child protection to datefound that disabled children are 3.4 times more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers(Sullivan and Knutson 2000) but this maltreatment is typically under-reported (Morris 1999, Kvam2000, Lightfoot and LaLiberte, 2006). Although more vulnerable to abuse than non-disabledchildren, there is evidence that young disabled people are less well protected. A good deal is knownabout the characteristics and vulnerabilities of abused disabled children in terms of age, gender andtype of impairment. Much less information is available about how they fare within the childprotection system, although one British study (Cooke and Standen 2002) found that cases involvingdisabled children were less likely than others to be placed on the child protection register or receiveprotection plans. Very few studies have asked disabled children about their experiences of abuse ortheir views about the child protection system.