By Ellen Seidman
Children with disabilities are at much higher risk for experiencing violence than kids without disabilities, says a new report from the United Nation's World Health Organization (WHO). Kids with disabilities are 3.6 times more likely to be victims of physical violence and 2.9 time more likely to be the victims of sexual violence. Those with mental illness or cognitive impairment are most at risk, noted the report, just published in medical journal The Lancet.
The review examined 17 studies, and covered date on 18,374 children in Finland, France, Israel, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. This may be making headlines but sadly, this is NOT news.
Google around and you'll find this damning report Violence Against Disabled Children from UNICEF, back in 2005. Or the 2009 study from the National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect, which found that children with disabilities are abused at twice the rate of those without disabilities. Google around and you'll find entire sites devoted to helping experts handle cases of abuse of kids with disabilities.
The UNICEF report noted that kids with disabilities were at increased risk for violence because of "stigma, negative traditional beliefs and ignorance." Kids with disabilities, it noted, are often seen as easy victims. Not. News.
The WHO is recommending that the same measures used to protect non-disabled kids, including home visits from nurses for those at highest risk and training to improve parenting skills, be implemented for children with disabilities. That makes good sense. But until countries--including our own--make it a priority to protect its most vulnerable citizens, we're going to keep seeing reports like these in years to come.
This article first appeared on Parents.com