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Enablers of help-seeking for deaf children and children with disabilities 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 children and children with disabilities following abuse and barriers to protection : a qualitative study. Child and Family Social Work. ISSN 1365-2206

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Abstract

Research internationally has highlighted the increased vulnerability of deaf children or children with disabilities to abuse and the frequently inadequate response of services. However, first-hand accounts of deaf children and children with disabilities have rarely been sought. This paper reports selected findings from one of the first studies exploring experiences of deaf children and children with disabilities regarding help-seeking following maltreatment. Innovative and sensitive research methods were employed to support 10 deaf people or people with disabilities (children and adults) to take part in guided conversations. The study identifies three enablers of help-seeking of deaf children or children with disabilities: 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 isolation of deaf children and children with disabilities; providing comprehensive support services that address the needs of the child holistically; ensuring that 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 local and institutional levels.