What is violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of children and young people with disability
We want children and young people with disability to live in communities where they are happy and safe – where there’s someone looking out for them, they know their neighbours, and they can get on with playing, learning and having fun with family and friends.
Sadly, we know that abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability happens in all the places where they live their everyday lives – in their homes, schools, playgrounds, libraries, swim centres and the local shops.
Children and young people are often considered ‘vulnerable’ because of their age – those with disability particularly so. Simply having a disability doesn’t increase the risk of harm occurring. But the risk is increased by some of the things people with disability commonly experience as a result of having a greater reliance on others for care and support, being socially isolated, and lacking a trusting adult or a way to communicate with someone who can help.
In light of this, children and young people with disability are at greater risk of experiencing violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation. Those with cognitive disability and behaviour support needs are at greater risk again. While it is hard to know the extent of the harm that occurs in Australia, we do know that children and young people with disability experience more harm than their peers without disability.
Understanding why and how this happens can help us prevent harm and keep children safe. It is also important to learn ways to reduce risk, and know how to respond if harm does occur. For more information, see Fact Sheet 2: What to do when harm occurs – or if you suspect it and Fact Sheet 3: How can we help keep children and young people with disability safe?