Children with Disabilities – Increased Vulnerability
Research suggests that children with a disability may be generally more vulnerable to significant harm through physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect than children who do not have a disability. It also indicates they they are subject to lower levels of reporting and less likely that other children to be subject to a Child Protection (CP) Plan. Disabled children may be especially vulnerable to abuse for a number of reasons including:
- increased likelihood of social isolation with fewer outside contacts that non-disabled children;
- dependency on parents and carers for practical assistance in daily living, including personal care, which increases exposure to abusive behaviour;
- impaired capacity to resist or avoid abuse;
- speech, language and communication needs that make it difficult to tell others what is happening;
- lack of access to someone of trust to share with; and/or
- particular vulnerability to bullying and intimidation.
The London Child Protection (CP) Procedures – Practice Guidance includes a specific chapter on Safeguarding Children with Disabilities.
Agencies can monitor work with children with disabilities and their families by carrying out themed audit activity.
For further guidance on safeguarding children with disabilities, see the LSCB Children with Disabilities (CWD) Protocol 2015 (PDF 1MB).
Messages from Serious Case Reviews (SCRs)
Key messages from Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) are that insufficient attention is paid to the abuse of disabled children. Issues include allowing parents’ voice to dominate and lack of direct communication with the child or young person, seeing the disability rather than the child and also toleration of a lower standard of parenting that would be tolerated in a non-disabled child. Those delivering direct work with disabled children need to understand their increased vulnerability, parenting capacity needs to consider the additional ability of parents to cope with the demands placed on, and special attention should be paid to supporting communication needs.
- Safeguarding disabled children – Practice Guidance, HM Government, 2009
- Protecting disabled children: thematic inspection, Ofsted, August 2012
- ‘We have the right to be safe’, NSPCC, October 2014
- Analysing SCRs Involving Disabled Children, Presentation, Professor M Brandon, UEL, 2015
- Deaf and disabled children: learning from serious case reviews, NSPCC, January 2016
- Child Protection and the Needs and Rights of Disabled Children and Young People: A Scoping Study, Stalker et al, University of Strathclyde, 2010
- SEND Reform in Redbridge
- Communicating with children and young people with speech, language and communication needs and/or developmental delay, Research in Practice (RiP), 2016
Signposting – Redbridge Information, Advice and Support Service (RIASS)
RIASS offer free, impartial information, advice and support to parents/carers and young people (0 to 25 years old) with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND) living in Redbridge.
What help you can get and how long you can receive help for is different for each individual and RIASS tailor services to meet specific needs. This might include face-to-face meetings, contact by telephone, or email.
RIASS can offer information, advice and support to parents, carers, children and young people on a range of issues including:
- SEND Support available in Redbridge
- The Local Offer
- Local parent support groups
- Other local or national support
- Individual case work and representation
- Preparing for and attending meetings
- Writing letters or reports
- Support in resolving disagreements, mediation and tribunals
- How to access Independent Supporters
- Local policy and practice including personal budgets, transition to adulthood, the law on SEN and Disability, information on health and social care
- Information about existing Special Educational Needs (SEN) statements and the review process
- Support with appeals around Education, Health and Care (EHC) Plans
Support during the EHC assessment will be provided by Independent Supports (provided by the charity Kids). They can be contacted on 020 8551 7333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parents can make a self-referral via phone or email. Whilst there may be occasions when it is appropriate for a professional to make contact with the service on behalf of a parent or young person, we will only accept these referrals on the full understanding that parental consent has been given.
RIASS have on-going consultation with both service users and professionals in Redbridge.
RIASS can be contacted via RIAS@redbridge.gov.uk, or on 020 8708 8922. The Service has an office at the Redbridge Drama Centre, Churchfields, South Woodford, LONDON, E18 2RB which is open 09:00 to 17:00 weekdays.
The RSCP Multi-Agency Training Programme includes a course on Safeguarding Children with Disabilities Training. For further information, see the training pages on the website.