International studies confirm that children with disabilities are four times more likely to be subjects of violence than children without, and that sexual abuse occurs up to three times more frequently.
Seventeen international studies were assessed by the WHO (World Health Organisation) and the review of the findings were recently published in the leading medical journal, The Lancet.
Individuals are now calling for the neglect of disabled children's needs to end once and for all, and for protection and prevention strategies to be pushed forward.
The review statistics reveal that children with disabilities are 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence and 2.9 times more likely to be sexually abused. The studies scrutinized were conducted across 17 “high income” countries, such as the UK, and included 18,374 children with disabilities.
The UN commissioned WHO review stated that these findings highlighted the urgent need for further research to be undertaken in low and middle income countries.
Experts in violence and injury prevention hope that protective schemes mobilised in high income countries may work in parts of the globe that have yet to be assessed. The WHO’s Disability Director, Etienne Krug said, “an agenda needs to be set for action.”
Tom Shakespeare, WHO’s Technical Officer for Disability and Rehabilitation, drew attention to the extra risks posed by placing children in institutional care. He said that children with disabilities are “more likely to come from poor or isolated families”.
Discrimination, ignorance and prejudice have been cited as some of the identified precursors of this social malaise.
One of the lead researchers Dr Mark Bellis said, “It is the duty of government and civil society to ensure that such victimization is exposed and prevented”.
Written by Kerry Barr