New NSPCC report into safeguarding deaf and disabled

NSPCC has just published an extensive report into safeguarding deaf and disabled children. The report titled ‘We have the right to be safe’; Protecting Disabled Children from abuse, draws on extensive literature reviews, research evidence, consultation with disabled children and young people and a wide range of safeguarding practitioners.

It examines the policy developments in the four UK countries and states that there has been an increasing awareness and recognition of the safeguarding needs of disabled children following legislative changes. It cites the UN Conventions of the Rights of the Child (1989) and Persons with Disabilities (2009); Disability Discrimination Act (1995) and the Equality Act (2010) as significant drivers for this increased awareness and in influencing better practice across all children’s services.

It re-states the clear additional vulnerabilities that deaf and disabled children face which makes them at greater risk of abuse. This can include for example: a lack of access to those in authority who can communicate when abuse takes place; lack of PHSE education to disabled children so they are less able to understand about abuse and how to report it; and an increased reliance on adult care giving for intimate and personal care needs. The report outlines the specific research around the safeguarding risks to deaf children.

It highlights the importance of empowering disabled children through measures such as: peer support; safeguarding awareness through PHSE education in school; and developing services in consultation with disabled people.  NDCS recognises the clear value of peer support programmes as shown our Helping Hands project.

The report recognise that there is still a way to go for organisations both statutory and non-statutory to improve their practice and respond to best meet the needs of deaf and disabled children and therefore protect them from harm. The development of the Deaf zone within NSPCC’s Childline has been an example of this but they recognise there are still further improvements that are required to make Childline fully accessible to deaf children.

Perhaps the most powerful comments come from disabled children and young people themselves who time after time express the importance of communication - 
“Talk to me not my carer”. Also powerful is the statistic from a 2013 study that it takes on average 7.8 years for a child to disclose abuse. The report rightly concludes “… given the barriers to disclosure that can exist for disabled children disclosure may take longer.”


The full report can be downloaded at

NDCS work on children's social care

At NDCS we are well aware that deaf children still face significant barriers to access children’s social care. Too often children’s social care lack specialist knowledge around the needs of deaf children and only respond when more recognisable safeguarding concerns become apparent. To address this we recently sent advice to local authorities and Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards in England about how they can affectively implement Working Together (2013) statutory safeguarding guidance to meet the social care needs of deaf children across children’s services. This advice is available at

This in addition to NDCS’s guidance for practitioners:

To empower our parent/carers members we also have developed social care factsheets relevant to the four UK countries. The England factsheet can be downloaded from:

NDCS continues to work with NSPCC through the National Working Group on Safeguarding Disabled Children.

For more information about NDCS’s work on social care please contact:

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