Child Abuse More Prevalent in Children With Disabilities

According to a new study released in The Lancet, one in four children with disabilities experiences some form of violence during their lifetime.

What’s more, researchers from the United Kingdom said that the risk of physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect for these children is nearly four times greater than for children who are not disabled.

For the study, the investigators examined 17 previous studies involving more than 18,000 children from the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Finland, Spain and Israel. The analysis revealed that nearly 27 percent of the children with disabilities had suffered some form of violence, including physical, sexual or emotional abuse or neglect. The study authors noted that lifetime levels of physical violence and sexual violence were high (20 percent and 14 percent, respectively).

The researchers also estimated that children with disabilities are at least three times more likely to be exposed to physical violence and nearly three times more likely to be exposed to sexual violence compared to children without disabilities.

“This report should serve as a call to arms for all caretakers of children to be aware and vigilant,” said Kathryn M. McCans, MD, Pediatric Emergency Medicine and Child Abuse Pediatrician with Children’s Regional Hospital at Cooper. “Any child can be mistreated by any caretaker.”

“Additionally, families caring for children with disabilities often have increased stressors compared with other families. There are additional economic stressors, time commitments, and worries about how the disabled child will progress through life. Having frequently evaluated children for a concern for abuse, I have noted that often the trigger for the violence toward the child is the caretaker being overwhelmingly stressed. Stress management, including periodic breaks for caretakers, is absolutely essential to decreasing the likelihood of abuse of children.”

For more information about child abuse and reporting any suspicions of abusive activity, visit the CARES Institute web site at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *