The connections between disability and child abuse: A review of the research evidence

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Abstract

Two possible connections between disability and abuse are explored: that disability can be the outcome of abuse, and that children with disabilities are differentially vulnerable to abuse. Evidence supporting both propositions is presented and assessed. Major problems in research and research methods are highlighted: the differing definitions of disability and abuse, the reliance on data drawn from clinical samples and case files, and failure to develop innovative methods which would enable direct participation of children and adults with a range of disabilities. The paper concludes that our current knowledge base is inadequate to either distinguish between the two connections or provide clear guidance on a range of concerns within the child protection field.

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