Safeguarding and SEND

Children with SEND are

  • 3.4 times more likely to be abused than non-disabled children
  • 3.8 times more likely to be neglected
  • 3.8 times more likely to be physically abused
  • 3.1 times more likely to be sexually abused
  • 3.9 times more likely to be emotionally abused.

The additional vulnerability of disabled children means they are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect, yet they are under-represented in the safeguarding system.

Some of the reasons why disabled children are more vulnerable to abuse and neglect are:

  • Social isolation with fewer outside contacts than other children
  • A need for practical assistance in daily living, including intimate care
  • Physical dependence with consequent reduction in ability to be able to resist or avoid abuse
  • Communication or learning difficulties preventing disclosure or making disclosure more difficult
  • Carers and staff lacking the ability to communicate adequately
  • A lack of continuity of care so behavioural changes may go unnoticed
  • Lack of access to ‘keep safe’ strategies available to others
  • Parents own needs and ways of coping may conflict with the needs of the child
  • The child / parent is inhibited about complaining for fear of losing services
  • The child being especially vulnerable to bullying, intimidation or abuse
  • Some sex offenders may target disabled children in the belief that they are less likely to be detected
  • Over-identification with the needs of parents that can lead to a professional reluctance to make judgments about concerning aspects of parenting
What is safeguarding?

The Children Act 2004 states that safeguarding children is about:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment, abuse and neglect
  • Minimising risks of harm to children
  • Preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • Addressing children’s needs at an early stage rather than when serious problems have developed
  • Ensuring that every child has the opportunity to fulfil their potential
  • Promoting children’s welfare.

Safeguarding is everyone’s business.


Working Together to Safeguard Children

‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (March 2015) sets out a clear expectation that local agencies will work together and collaborate to identify children with additional needs and provide support as soon as a problem emerges. Providing early help is far more effective in promoting the welfare of children – and keeping them safe – than reacting later when any problems, for example neglect, may have become more entrenched.

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