Are children with disabilities that reside at home at greater risk to be victims of abuse?

The risk factors for abuse are the same for children with and without disabilities. The risk for abuse is greater for the child that has disabilities. Most parents and caregivers that care for children with disabilities do not respond in an abusive manner while meeting the needs of their child. Care giver strain, familial tendencies and low self esteem of the child factor prominently in abusive family and caregiver dynamics. There is increased stress associated with assisting a disabled child with bathing, dressing, feeding and seeking medical care. When stress is experienced by a caregiver or parent that is prone to maltreatment of a disabled child, the disabled child may become a victim. Some disabled children require diligent care not limited to meeting the child’s physical needs. Many disabled children require constant supervision for their emotional and social disabilities. The disabled child may have disagreeable behavioral features that provide a challenge to caregivers, like temper tantrums or aggression. And not all parents and caregivers have had adequate preparation to deal with their disabled child’s unique features. If parental expectations are not realistic, that becomes a risk factor for abuse. Stressed parents that feel isolated, unsupported and overwhelmed may be prone to maltreating their disabled child. Maltreatment comes in the form of physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse and neglectful care. If caregivers or parents are ill-equipped or unsupported in their role, the child is more likely to receive neglectful treatment both intentionally and non-intentionally. 


Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer