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Enablers of help-seeking and protection from abuse for deaf and disabled children: A qualitative study

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages762
JournalChild & Family Social Work
Early online date27 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 19 Apr 2019


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.

    Research areas

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

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