Disabled children and the child protection system: a cause for concern

Taylor, J., Stalker, K. and Stewart, A. B.R. (2016) Disabled children and the child protection system: a cause for concern. Child Abuse Review, 25(1), pp. 60-73. (doi: 10.1002/car.2386)

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Disabled children are more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers. Despite this heightened risk, the abuse of disabled children often goes undetected and under-reported. This qualitative study investigated the specific issues faced by practitioners in Scotland in supporting disabled children at risk of significant harm. Interviews were held with participants from six local authority areas and across five different services, and five focus groups with child protection committees (total 61 participants). There were positive messages about putting the child at the very heart of child protection assessment and intervention, regardless of any impairment that a child may have. However, there was also concern that practice was at times parent-centred. Some participants appeared to be ‘muddling through’ in practice and many practitioners lacked confidence when working with disabled children. Data from this study suggest that thresholds for disabled children may be higher than for non-disabled children. Participants reported high levels of interagency working and saw this as inherently positive, although they recognised some failings and tensions. There is widespread commitment across the child protection system to putting the child at the centre. However, getting it right for every child does not mean treating every child the same.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Stewart, Dr Alasdair
Authors: Taylor, J., Stalker, K., and Stewart, A. B.R.
Subjects:H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Urban Studies
Journal Name:Child Abuse Review
ISSN (Online):1099-0852
Published Online:12 May 2015

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