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                                Chapter 1: INTRODUCTION

1.1   Background

According to Sullivan and Knutson (2000), children who are disabled are 3.4 times more vulnerable to be abuse and violation than children who are not disabled. A wide research on the vulnerabilities of disabled children indicates that the ones who possess behavioural disorders, communication impairments, learning disabilities as well as sensory impairment have the highest vulnerability. One of the impediments to dealing with the abuse of children is usually communication and reporting. As such, cases of abuse and right’s violation of disabled children face the challenge of under-reporting at a much greater magnitude. Nonetheless, the UK has a broad policy framework designed at protecting children, especially the disabled (Stalker, Lister, Lerpiniere, & McArthur, 2010).

The safeguarding of the vulnerable children from abuses and other forms of violations is the responsibility of every member of society. However, social workers from the medical field and those from the children department have been primarily tasked with the duty to ensure that no violation or abuses are perpetrated toward children and more so – towards the most vulnerable ones.  The disabled are much more vulnerable to acts of exploitation as well as bullying from their fellow schoolmates, peers and adults. Whereas it is easier to deal with abuse of non-disabled children, protecting the disabled often exhibits an additional challenge considering their dependence as well as inability to effectively communicate. According to available literature, information received by institutions mandated with safeguarding disabled children is usually quite poor(Stalker, Lister, Lerpiniere, & McArthur, 2010).

According to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child/UNCRC (year), all the children as well as the young people must be provided with an opportunity to develop optimally in accordance with the growth in age (UN, 1989). In this regard, children with disabilities must have the right to access agencies as well as services that safeguard and support their wellbeing. The definition of a disabled child is wide and encompasses a person either young or a child who has a health condition, impairment either sensory, or in learning. According to the Disability Discrimination Act/DDA 2005, a disabled child is one who possess a long-term medical condition either physical or mental, that prevents them from carrying out daily operations normally (Stalker, Lister, Lerpiniere, & McArthur, 2010).

1.2   Rationale of the Study

Studies regarding the violation and abuses of the disabled children have been quite limited in the UK. Considering the precarious situation and the nature as well as extent of vulnerability of the disabled, it is very prudent that existing literature and studies be interrogated with the aim of finding the discrepancies in research relating to the safeguarding of children with disability.

1.3   Importance of the Study

This project is very important in ensuring that the rights of the vulnerable or disabled children in the society are sufficiently safeguarded, notwithstanding the immense challenge privy to them. It is expected that the recommendations of this research will be very useful to social workers, child services departments, schools and other welfare organizations with the duty of safeguarding disabled children in a number of ways. One such benefit is that it will provide an insight into evidence based practices on safeguarding disabled children. The study will also address the shortcomings on the policies and frameworks especially in the criminal justice department. The study will also provide researchers with specific areas that require further study in the future.

1.4   Research Aims and Objectives

The underlying objective of this study is to find out the effectiveness of existing studies as well as methodologies in safeguarding children with disabilities with a view to providing necessary recommendations that would assist in better protecting of the disabled.

1.4.1      The work will attempt to address the following research questions: To assess certain policy frameworks and methodologies in safeguarding the rights and enjoyment of children with disabilities

1.4.2      To find out evidence based social work practices that have successfully managed to provide more protection to the vulnerable in  society.

1.4.3      To provide recommendations based on the extensive literature search

 Structure of the dissertation





Audit Commission for Local Authorities in England and Wales (United Kingdom);. (2003). Services for disabled children A review of services for disabled children and their families.

Mepham, S. (2010). Disabled children: The right to feel safe. Child Care in Practice, 16(1), 19-34.

Stalker, K., & McArthur, K. (2012). Child abuse, child protection and disabled children: a review, 21(1), 24-40.

Stalker, K., Green Lister, P., Lerpiniere, J., & McArthur, K. (2010). Child protection and the needs and rights of disabled children and young people: A scoping study.

Sullivan, P. M., & Knutson, J. F. (2000). The prevalence of disabilities and maltreatment among runaway children. Child Abuse & Neglect, 24(10), 1275-1288.


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