Enablers of help-seeking for deaf and disabled children following abuse and barriers to protection: a qualitative study

Christine Jones*, Kirsten Stalker, Anita Franklin, Deborah Fry, Audrey Cameron, Julie Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

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Research internationally has highlighted the increased vulnerability of deaf or disabled children to abuse and the frequently inadequate response of services. However, first-hand accounts of deaf or disabled children have rarely been sought. This paper reports selected findings from one of the first studies exploring experiences of deaf and disabled children regarding help-seeking following maltreatment. Innovative and sensitive research methods were employed to support 10 deaf or disabled people (children and adults) to take part in guided conversations. The study identifies three enablers of help-seeking of deaf or disabled children: the capacity of adults to detect abuse and respond to disclosures, supportive relationships or circumstances which facilitate disclosure and for Deaf children, access to registered interpreters. Barriers to protection related to these are also discussed. Recommendations directed at policy makers, practitioners and families include education and awareness raising amongst practitioners, children, parents and carers; addressing isolation of deaf and disabled children; providing comprehensive support services that address the needs of the child holistically; ensuring that the voice of the child is heard; routine access to registered interpreters for Deaf children within mainstream and specialist services and measures to address disablism at local and institutional levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)762-771
Number of pages10
JournalChild and Family Social Work
Issue number2
Early online date27 May 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • child abuse
  • child protection
  • disabilities
  • prevention of child abuse


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