Children's Advocacy Centers of North Dakota
200 E. Main Street #301 * Bismarck, ND 58501
701-323-5626 *
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Factors That Put Children with Disabilities at  Risk for Abuse

Kids with disabilities are easy targets for abuse. Here are some reasons why:
  1. Symptoms of abuse may be dismissed as part of the child's disability.
  2. Kids with communications impairments can't talk about abuse. Traditional assistance devices don't usually include language of sexuality or abuse.
  3. Kids with disabilities have special needs. They need more time, energy, medical care, special education and emotional support than other children. In stressed households, it's easy to overlook and neglect children with disabilities.
  4. Families that care for a child with disabilities are stressed. Providing for a child with a disability exacts a huge physical, emotional, financial and social toll on families.
  5. It's hard to get daycare, babysitting or camp for a child with disabilities. Families rarely get a break from their enormous daily responsibilities.
  6. It's difficult to find effective, positive ways to discipline children with behavioral disabilities. Mainstream child-rearing books and online resources usually don't include information on behavioral problems of children with disabilities.
  7. Parents and caregivers rarely discuss personal safety, sexuality and sexual abuse prevention with children with disabilities. Otherwise caring adults may feel frank discussion is unnecessary or inappropriate.
  8. Children with disabilities who live in foster care may lack stability and specialized medical care they need. They may be cared for by foster parents unskilled to handle the child's special needs.
  9. Children with disabilities are often dependent on others for their physical needs. Kids with disabilities grow used to being touched–even in their most private parts–by many different people. Children with disabilities may be afraid to disclose their abuse for fear their crucial daily needs and hygiene will be ignored.
  10. Children with disabilities are frequently taught to be compliant by caregivers who expect–and reward–submission. Some children with disabilities may feel particularly motivated to please from a desperate need to be liked and accepted.
  11. Abusers take advantage of the power imbalance between adults and children–an inequity magnified when the child has a disability.

*The Children's Hospital at Montefior