The Department for Children, Schools and Families today urged social workers and other professionals to do more to protect disabled children given the higher prevalence of abuse for this group.
Updated guidance on safeguarding disabled children, published today, said research suggested disabled children were more vulnerable than their non-disabled peers, including because of the attitudes of practitioners and society.
It said practitioners sometimes over-identified with parents or carers and explained away abuse or neglect as the result of the difficulties of caring for a disabled child.
Abuse minimised or denied
The guidance, produced by the Children’s Society, also said professionals needed to be aware of social attitudes that minimised or denied the abuse of disabled children, leading to cases not being reported.
Junior children’s minister Baroness Morgan said: “The abuse of disabled children is often overlooked or simply denied. I urge all agencies to look again at this issue and use this guidance to make sure they are doing everything they can in their local area.”
Other reasons cited for disabled children’s increased vulnerability included their dependence on a wide network of carers, isolation, communication barriers, lack of empowerment and the impact of their impairments.
The guidance said referral and assessment teams may need to devote extra resources to disabled children’s cases to help their communication.