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Disabled Children and Child Protection in Scotland: An investigation into the relationship between professional practice, child

In March 2013 the Scottish Government appointed researchers from the University of Edinburgh/NSPCC Child Protection Research Centre and the University of Strathclyde, School of Social Work and Social Policy, to investigate the relationship between disabled children and child protection practice.

Although most parents of disabled children provide safe and loving homes, there is a significant body of international research to show that disabled children are more likely to be abused than their non-disabled peers. Despite this heightened risk, there is evidence that the abuse of disabled children often goes undetected and, even when suspected, may be under-reported.

Among the main findings were:

  • Assessments of child protection concerns should include and support the views of disabled children and young people where possible.
  • Local services need to provide training for disability teams, speech and language therapists and others with specific disability expertise on child protection and the child protection process (including joint interviewing).
  • The vulnerability of all disabled children, not just those with communication impairments, should be highlighted in practice guidance and supervision.
  • Where concerns have been raised and addressed for a particular child experiencing maltreatment, detailed consideration of subsequent harm that may be posed to other children should be monitored.
  • The availability and suitability of foster carers and other care arrangements for disabled children should be examined across Scotland.
  • Child protection case conferences should be made accessible for the involvement of disabled children.
  • All sectors should review their support to disabled children in the area of child protection to ensure best practice.
  • A stronger focus on prevention of child abuse and neglect against disabled children is needed.
  • Safe interagency reflective spaces should be created for discussing and learning from examples of practice related to child protection and disability.

For full details see the Scottish Government website.


Further Information

Disabled Children and Child Protection in Scotland: Investigation into the relationship between professional practice, child protection and disability

Disabled Children and Child Protection in Scotland: An investigation into the relationship between professional practice, child protection and disability - Research Findings