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Safeguarding children with intellectual disability: Lessons from a scoping study

Stalker, Kirsten and Green Lister, Pam and Lerpiniere, Jennifer and McArthur, K. (2010) Safeguarding children with intellectual disability: Lessons from a scoping study. Journal of Applied Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 23 (5). pp. 502-512. ISSN 1360-2322

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To scope current knowledge about safeguarding and disabled children, to review social policy and practice in the field in Britain and to pilot a way to seek disabled children's views about safeguarding services. Method: Included: (a) review of research on child abuse, child protection and disabled children, (b) analysis of safeguarding policies across the UK and how far they address disabled children's needs, (c) 10 'key informant' interviews with senior policy makers and practitioners, and (d) interviews with 4 disabled children using safeguarding services. Results: Disabled children are 3.4 times more likely to be abused than non-disabled children. There is evidence that disabled children receive less favourable treatment than others in safeguarding services, including lower levels of reporting and registration. Those with ID are among the most vulnerable: this paper will highlight findings about them. Professionals often lack training and experience in communicating with children with ID. They are less likely to be seen as credible witnesses and criminal justice systems often fail to take account of their needs. Very few studies have asked children with ID about their experiences of abuse or safeguarding systems. Conclusions: The research suggests that the rights of children with ID to receive the same level of safeguarding as non-disabled children are not consistently upheld.