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‘We have the right to be safe’ Protecting disabled children from abuse

This report identifies key issues about safeguarding and disabled children. It outlines the rationale for the NSPCC’s work with disabled children, identifies influencing factors on risk and safeguarding, considers what we know from research and reviews of service delivery before moving on to the policy context and current state of safeguarding services in the UK. Finally, the report sets out what is needed to improve the protection of disabled children.

The importance of involving deaf and disabled young people in understanding the nature of the problems and in finding solutions is recognised, as is the role of all stakeholders in working towards the protection of disabled children from abuse.

The report has drawn from a number of sources including:

  • literature reviews
  • deaf and disabled children, young people and young adults
  • NSPCC practitioners and managers
  • key organisations and individual experts in both the disabled children and safeguarding and child protection fields.

It considers the safeguarding needs of disabled children from a wide range of impairment groups including children with moderate, severe and profound and multiple learning disabilities; children with specific learning difficulties; children with physical or visual impairments; deaf children; children with an autistic spectrum condition; children with physical or mental health needs; children with speech, language and communication needs; and children with behavioural, emotional and social development needs.

The term “disabled” covers a wide range of impairments that have a different impact on the child, their needs and their experience of disabling barriers. Any one child’s experience of their impairment will be unique to them. In consequence, each issue considered in this report is of varying relevance for children within different impairment groups and for individual children themselves. However, some issues will be common to the experience of children across a number of impairment groups.