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Abuse And Deaf Children: Some Factors To Consider

Sharon Ridgeway
Published 1993 · Psychology
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Deaf children are uniquely disadvantaged in terms of access to information on safety and abuse. This is often due to misunderstood linguistic and cultural needs which relate to the deaf community. Consequently, a greater number of children who are deaf are placed in potentially abusive situations when compared to their non-deaf peer group. A high percentage of deaf children have also acquired negative self-concepts. This is often due to external influences such as educational experiences and family communication. Many deaf children believe that abuse is part of their being deaf. The implications of this are that deaf children are at risk of neglect and abuse as well as long-term damage to their emotional development and self-esteem. A number of survivors of physical and sexual abuse have been referred to the National Centre for Mental Health and Deafness, Preston. Some of these referrals have been inappropriate and due to a dearth of local resources. Extremely little support is available for deaf people who have been or are being abused. There are few appropriately trained counsellors equipped with the necessary skills in communicating with deaf people and even fewer trained in deaf awareness. A number of risk factors have been identified and are illustrated in this article. Three case studies are described to highlight the issues involved.

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