Everyday People Matter

Disabled Children at Higher Risk of Abuse and Neglect

| Apr 20, 2017 | Autism, Children, Mental Health

Children who suffer from a mental or physical disability may be at a much higher risk of suffering from abuse or neglect.

Those are the results of a new study that yielded disturbing findings. According to the study, children who suffer from mental or behavioral disorders have a heightened risk of abuse, and those risks differ depending on the type of disorder from which the child suffers.

Researchers found that children who suffer from autism, spina bifida, and Down syndrome, are not at a high risk of abuse, but those who suffer from intellectual disabilities or mental/behavioral disorders such as depression and developmental delays are much more likely to experience abuse or neglect.  Moreover, children whose parents lack support to deal with their child’s disability, or are overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for a disabled child, are much more likely to suffer from neglect.

Other studies have indicated that children who suffer from disabilities may also suffer abuse by other children. For instance, one study found that children with disabilities reported higher rates of being bullied at school, compared to children with no disability.  Similarly, children who suffer from intellectual disabilities were twice as likely to be abused or neglected, and those with mild impairments were more likely to suffer abuse than children who suffered from severe disabilities.

Children who suffer from a disability may be eligible for benefits under the Social Security Disability Insurance program and the Supplemental Security Income program. For a child to qualify for disability benefits, the disability must occur before the child reaches the age of 22.  If your child suffers from a disability such as autism, or Down syndrome, he or she may be eligible for benefits. Discuss your child’s case with an experienced Social Security disability attorney.