Children with disability more vulnerable to violence

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a handicapped boy plays with his wheelchair

a handicapped boy plays with his wheelchair

Children with disabilities are four times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children, according to a study published by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The report says children with disability associated with mental illness or intellectual impairments were at a higher risk of sexual violence compared with their non-disabled peers.

The study covered 18,374 children with disabilities from high-income countries including Finland, France, Israel, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Dr. Tom Shakespeare of WHO says data from low-income and middle-income countries was inconclusive although indications were that violence against children with disabilities in these countries could be much higher due to the social stigma associated with disability.

"Families with children with disabilities are more likely to be poor, more likely to be isolated. Children with disabilities are far more likely to be in institutions, and we know that institutions are places where abuse, neglect and violence are more common. What happens with disabled children – they may come into contact with many more adults, carers, school teachers.   Some adults choose caring professions because they want to prey on children. Some children with disabilities have communication problems that may make it more likely they won't be listened to,  won’t be understood, won’t be believed, and again that makes it more likely that they will be preyed on. This sort of violence and abuse obviously has an impact.   It makes it less likely for there to be  good outcomes for the individual.  It makes it more likely for there to be higher costs for society in terms of dependency."  (Duration: 51″)

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