Personal safety issues in the lives of children with learning disabilities

Briggs, Freda, and Hawkins, Russell (2005) Personal safety issues in the lives of children with learning disabilities. Children Australia, 30 (2). pp. 19-27.

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Abstract

An earlier evaluation of the New Zealand child protection program 'Keeping Ourselves Safe' found, inter alia, that girls with learning problems were highly vulnerable to drugs, sexual abuse and violence (Briggs & Hawkins 1996a). This led to the present study, the aim of which was to focus specifically on children with learning disabilities, and to include data from boys as well as girls. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected from one hundred and sixteen students aged 11-17 years (61 females and 55 males) who were interviewed in special education units. Their common characteristics were that they had all been assessed as being 3 years or more behind their chronological age group in their development and achievement, they needed individually planned curricula across the range of school subjects, and they had all previously attended mainstream schools throughout the North and South Islands of New Zealand. The study confirmed the vulnerability of children with learning disabilities to the risks of drugs, violence, psychological bullying, pornography and sexual abuse. Significant levels of violence in both schools and the home were found. The study also showed the need for special attention for the protection of boys. It is possible that children with learning disabilities were targeted because they were seen as safer targets in terms of an expectation that they would be less aware of the difference between right and wrong and less likely than other children to make a report about any abusive behaviour. If this speculative hypothesis is correct, it means that children with learning disabilities require even more vigilant forms ofprotection than other children.

Item ID: 14967
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: child protection, learning disabilities, safety, violence, parent education
ISSN: 1035-0772
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2010 05:28
FoR Codes: 13 EDUCATION > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130312 Special Education and Disability @ 33%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160702 Counselling, Welfare and Community Services @ 34%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111707 Family Care @ 33%
SEO Codes: 94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940105 Childrens/Youth Services and Childcare @ 60%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940104 Carers Development and Welfare @ 20%
94 LAW, POLITICS AND COMMUNITY SERVICES > 9401 Community Service (excl. Work) > 940112 Families and Family Services @ 20%
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