The Scottish government has issued new child protection guidance for social workers and other professionals working with disabled children and young people.
The children and disability toolkit is aimed at all practitioners working with children and families and people with disabilities.
The government said the toolkit, which seeks to promote competence in safeguarding young people with disabilities – or whose parents have disabilities – had been created in response to requests for greater guidance on early intervention when child protection issues arise. It will sit alongside existing child protection guidance.
Aileen Campbell, Scotland’s minister for children and young people, said research commissioned by Edinburgh and Strathclyde universities had revealed professionals often have difficulties identifying signs of abuse when working with disabled children – especially where there are problems with communication.
“Research has shown that they are more likely to suffer abuse and that it is more likely to go undetected or unreported,” Campbell said.
“It is a stark reminder of how vulnerable young people with disabilities can be if those working with them are not able to spot the signs of abuse and – just as importantly – know how to ensure the young person’s views are fully reflected when addressing them.”
The toolkit was developed jointly by the government and WithScotland, a multi-agency resource for staff working with child protection issues. Its training for frontline practitioners is grouped around six key objectives:
- Raising awareness of the challenges disability may create in families
- Increasing knowledge about the abuse and neglect of children and young people with disabilities
- Identifying the particular risks of abuse that disabled children and young people face, and how they may be overlooked through common myths and misconceptions
- Challenging attitudes and values about the vulnerability of disabled children and young people to abuse and neglect
- Raising awareness of the experiences and challenges disabled children and young people may face
- Identifying ways of working positively with disabled parents to provide support.