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Child abuse, child protection and disabled children : a review of recent research

Stalker, K. and McArthur, K. (2012) Child abuse, child protection and disabled children : a review of recent research. Child Abuse Review, 21 (1). pp. 24-40. ISSN 0952-9136

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Abstract

This paper reports the results of a scoping study which reviewed research about child abuse, child protection and disabled children published in academic journals between 1996 - 2009. The review was conducted using a five stage method for scoping studies. Several studies have revealed a strong association between disability and child maltreatment, indicating that disabled children are significantly more likely to experience abuse than their non-disabled peers. Those with particular impairments are at increased risk. There is evidence that the interaction of age, gender and/or socio-cultural factors with impairment results in different patterns of abuse to those found among non-disabled children although the reasons for this require further examination. It appears that therapeutic services and criminal justice systems often fail to take account of disabled children's needs and heightened vulnerability. In Britain, little is known about what happens to disabled children who have been abused and how well safeguarding services address their needs. Very few studies have sought disabled children's own accounts of abuse or safeguarding. Considerable development is required, at both policy and practice level, to ensure that disabled children's right to protection is upheld. The paper concludes by identifying a number of aspects of the topic requiring further investigation.