There is nothing more difficult than when a disabled child has been the victim of abuse. A parent may discover the abuse after it is too late; weeks, months and even years of abuse may have occurred. Disabled children of all ages and all disabilities are often targets of physical, mental and even sexual abuse.
Even children who are not disabled have difficulty communicating that the abuse has even occurred. For disabled children, communicating abuse is compounded by the mental or physical disability. In some instances, the disabled child is unable to even communicate at all.
Caretakers who are alone with disabled children for long periods of time are the usual perpetrators of abuse, which can be sexual, physical, and mental. Physical therapists, behavior therapists, home care nurses, and school employees are all in a unique position to abuse a disabled child.
Parents can follow these steps to prevent or detect abuse of a disabled, special needs child:
1. Vet the caretaker thoroughly. Ask for references and follow up with those references.
Even if the caretaker is from a special agency, you should still conduct your own investigation. Ask if the caretaker is willing to undergo psychosexual evaluation. This may be especially appropriate to do for children who are severely disabled and cannot communicate at all. If the potential caretaker is unwilling to even consider the idea of a psychosexual evaluation, then find someone who will. A professional and quality caretaker of disabled children will realize that severely disabled children are at risk of abuse and should, at least, be open to the idea of being vetted in this way.
2. Discuss abuse with the caretaker and drop in randomly.
Ask if the caretaker would allow random visits and then actually follow through, not just in the beginning. Be persistent about it. Sometimes simply knowing that a parent may stop in randomly is enough to prevent abuse. A professional caretaker should be understanding about a parent’s concern about abuse and the right to conduct random visits. If not, find someone who is.
3. Conduct physical examinations of your child on a regular basis.
Some kinds of abuse will be immediately apparent, such as physical abuse. Others will not. Even if you do not see signs of physical abuse, children who cannot communicate may engage in self-mutilation, such as biting, scratching their own skin or hair pulling. Pay attention for any physical changes. Keeping a diary may be helpful to keep track of when certain signs and symptoms appeared.
4. Look for unexplained changes in your child’s behavior.
Even if physical signs of abuse are absent, children will usually exhibit behavioral changes such as: self-mutilation, regressive behaviors like bed-wetting, increased aggression, depression, and anxiety.
More Sex Abuse Legal Articles:
- School & Daycare Liability for Negligent Supervision of Students Resulting in Sex Abuse
- Rights of Sexual Abuse Victims in Pennsylvania
- Liability for Physical and Sexual Abuse in Nursing Homes in Pennsylvania and New Jersey
Sex Abuse Lawyer in Pennsylvania & New Jersey – Representation by a Former Sex Crimes Unit Prosecutor
Firm founder, Brian Kent, is a former sex crimes unit prosecutor and is licensed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
Laffey, Bucci & Kent handles sex abuse cases in the Northeast area with offices in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. The firm has the resources and experience to handle school sex abuse cases in all states and welcomes calls from local counsel about potential cases. Click To Call
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