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

Christine Jones, Kirsten Stalker, Anita Franklin, Deborah Fry, Audrey Cameron, Julie Taylor

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    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.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)762-771
    Number of pages10
    JournalChild and Family Social Work
    Issue number2
    Early online date27 May 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 31 May 2017


    • child abuse
    • child protection
    • disabilities
    • prevention of child abuse

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