School Climate & Safety

Children with Disabilities Four Times as Likely to Experience Violence

By Nirvi Shah — July 12, 2012 1 min read
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A new report finds that children with disabilities are at about four times the risk of becoming victims of violence compared with children who don’t have disabilities.

The authors said that while it’s been the belief that children with disabilities are at greater risk of violence, this study is the first to quantify the prevalence and magnitude of that risk.

I’ve written about how students with disabilities are more likely to be bullied than their peers. And some especially disheartening stories like this one have crossed my desk. But I’ve never seen these numbers aggregated before in this way.

The study, published Wednesday in the online version of The Lancet, reviewed dozens of other studies on the issue from around the world. Pooling the results from studies that met their standards, researchers found that 26.7 percent of children with disabilities have been exposed to some kind of violence during their lives. Violence was defined as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, or neglect. About 20 percent had experienced physical violence and nearly 14 percent had been victims of sexual violence.

The review, funded by the World Health Organization’s Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability, found that children with mental or intellectual disabilities have a higher risk of sexual violence than both children with other disabilities and children without special needs.

The study says about 5 percent of children worldwide, or about 93 million children, have a moderate or severe disability. While the researchers looked at studies from around the globe, they said not nearly enough were of children in non-English-speaking countries.

A version of this news article first appeared in the On Special Education blog.