Enablers of help-seeking for deaf and disabled children following abuse and barriers to protection : a qualitative study

Jones, Christine and Stalker, Kirsten and Franklin, Anita and Fry, Deborah and Cameron, Audrey and Taylor, Julie (2016) Enablers of help-seeking for deaf and disabled children following abuse and barriers to protection : a qualitative study. Child and Family Social Work. ISSN 1365-2206 (In Press)

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    Abstract

    Research internationally has highlighted the increased vulnerability of deaf or disabled children to abuse and the frequently inadequate response of services. However, first-hand accounts of deaf or disabled children have rarely been sought. This paper reports selected findings from one of the first studies exploring deaf and disabled children’s experiences of help-seeking following maltreatment. Innovative and sensitive research methods were employed to support ten deaf or disabled people (children and adults) to take part in guided conversations. The study identifies three enablers of help-seeking of deaf or disabled children: the capacity of adults to detect abuse and respond to disclosures, supportive relationships or circumstances which facilitate disclosure; and, for Deaf children, access to registered interpreters. Barriers to protection related to these are also discussed. Recommendations directed at policy makers, practitioners and families include: education and awareness raising amongst practitioners, children, parents and carers; addressing deaf and disabled children’s social isolation; providing comprehensive support services that address the needs of the child holistically; ensuring the voice of the child is heard; routine access to registered interpreters for Deaf children within mainstream and specialist services and measures to address disablism at a local and institutional level.