Last updated: 16 November 2023

Next review: 16 November 2024

Children with SEND are particularly vulnerable, and are more likely to be abused (physically and sexually), neglected, or emotionally abused.

The reasons disabled children are more likely to suffer abuse and neglect include:

  • being more socially isolated than other children
  • needing practical help in daily living, including intimate care
  • physical dependence, which makes them less able to resist or avoid abuse
  • communication or learning difficulties, preventing disclosure or making it 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' needs and ways of coping may conflict with 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 caught
  • over identification with parents' needs can mean professionals are reluctant to make judgments around concerning aspects of parenting.