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Child safeguarding: A call to action

26 October, 2021 Ann Porter Parents

22 October 2021

The Global Coalition of Parents of Children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (GPODHH)  have released a paper "Ensuring The Safety of Children who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing: A Call to Action".

This document is intended as a first step for family-led organizations, professional support systems, schools and government agencies to build awareness of the need for assuring the safety and protection of children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing.

Factors that make children who are deaf or hard of hearing more vulnerable to abuse include, but are not limited to:

  1. People may view deaf children with negative attitudes and assumptions, this includes a likelihood of deaf children facing societal stigma and being viewed as less valuable members of society.
  2. They are often not recognized to be at higher risk for maltreatment.
  3. They experience greater degrees of social isolation and loneliness than their nondisabled peers, thus often making them socially less mature and more welcoming of attention from individuals who intend them harm.
  4. For a number of complex reasons, they often do not...
    • know what is appropriate vs. inappropriate behavior from another individual
    • know that they have the right to say “No!” nor what to do if that right is disregarded
    • possess the language, knowledge needed to share their feelings and day-to-day experiences, thus are less able to share that they have been maltreated
    • know how to recognize, avoid and/or respond to risky situations, and
    • understand changes in their bodies and their emerging sexuality.
  5. They may demonstrate behavioral patterns that are misinterpreted to be associated with their disability rather than the maltreatment experience.
  6. Law enforcement, child protective services, child advocacy services and prosecutors lack sufficient preparation and resources to effectively interact, interview and document the maltreatment experiences of children with disabilities.
  7. There is a chronic and systemic lack of therapeutic services available for children with disabilities that have experienced maltreatment.

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