The Prevalence of Sexual Abuse of Disabled Children

Disabled children are often the target of sexual predators who may be looking for opportunities to hurt those who are young and unable to defend themselves. Complicating matters is that disabled children may not know what is occurring is wrong or how to help. Understanding the prevalence of sexual abuse in disabled children is critical to protecting your child. Call a California child sexual abuse attorney at The Senators Firm, LLP, today.

Consider the Statistics on Disabled Children Suffering Sexual Abuse

The California Child Abuse Training and Technical Assistance Centers provide a variety of resources to support families who are victims. Among their tools is a guide that shows just how common these types of abuse are, including sharing the following statistics:

  • A child with disabilities is 3.4 times more likely to suffer some type of abuse than a child who does not have any disabilities
  • Of the 86,725 children who were reported as being abused in 2005, 8,172 of them had disabilities. This is about 10 percent of all disability cases.

The prevalence of sexual abuse in disabled children is staggering. In another study, there is evidence that 32.1% of disabled children and adolescents suffered first-time sexual violence versus a much lower percentage for a control group.

Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Abuse in Disabled Children

What makes this type of abuse even more challenging is that it can be hard to notice the signs of such abuse occurring. Many times, abusers are people who are trusted by the family and the child with the disability. They may not be able to communicate what is occurring either.

For this reason, it is critical for parents and guardians to know what signs to look for to determine if sexual abuse has occurred.

  • Any signs of physical abuse, such as bruises or trauma that cannot be explained, could be a sign of abuse
  • Tearing of vaginal or anal areas as reported by a doctor
  • Pain or bruising in the genital area
  • Stomachaches that are not otherwise understood
  • Onset of sexually transmitted disease
  • Headaches and complaints about feeling ill
  • Trouble with walking or sitting that is due to pain or new limitations
  • Trouble with urination or pain while urinating

Additionally, parents must also consider the potential for mental health and emotional trauma. In some situations, it may be possible to pinpoint what is occurring by paying closer attention to what the child is saying or trying to communicate. This is not simplistic, but there may be statements that do not seem accurate or may even be misleading, which could indicate that something is not right.

Know That These Risks Can Occur to Anyone

Any child with a disability could be a victim. Even if you know every person in your child’s life and do not believe a risk exists, it could occur. The key here is to know what your rights are as a family member and to consistently speak to your child about the risks they face. Working with a child’s doctor, as well as other support services, can also help to alleviate some of the unknown.