Globally there is a
rise in violence against children. According to a systematic analysis published
in The Lancet, disabled children are 3 to 4 times more likely to be victims of
violence as compared to those without any disability.
Disability can be
cognitive, mental, physical, emotional or developmental inability in an
According to World
Health Organization, disability is an umbrella term, covering impairments,
activity limitations, and participation restrictions. Impairment is a problem
in body function or structure; an activity limitation is a difficulty
encountered by an individual in execution of a task or action; while a
participation restriction is a problem experienced by an individual in
involvement in life situations. Thus disability is a complex phenomenon,
reflecting an interaction between features of a person's body and features of
the society in which he or she lives.
Violence is defined as
the deliberate or intentional use of physical power or force, actual or
threatened against someone else. It may lead to mal-development, psychological
harm or deprivation.
Disabled children are
the most vulnerable targets of violence and it is seen that about 93 million
children suffer from moderate to severe disabilities.
Study researcher Lisa
Jones and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis and systematic review to collect
evidence for the occurrence and risk of violence against disabled children.
This review has been published in The Lancet Online Publication 2012.
The data was extracted
from 12 electronic databases to identify cross-sectional, case-control, or
cohort studies reported between Jan 1, 1990, and Aug 17, 2010. The incidences
of violence were noted in disabled children aged ≤18 years.
The scientist took
into consideration 17 eligible studies that involved 18,000 children in the age
group of 2 to 18 years belonging to Sweden, USA, UK, Spain, Finland and Israel.
The researchers found
that around 26.7 percent of disabled
children were exposed to sexual, physical, emotional abuse or neglect in their
lifetime. 20.4 percent of children experienced severe level of physical
violence and about 13.7 percent of disabled children experienced sexual abuse.
meta-analysis highlighted that disabled children are vulnerable to various
forms of violence as compared to their healthy counterparts. Due to scarcity of
strong proof, lack of well defined research studies, and improper evaluation of
whether violence paved way for the development of disability, results in lacuna
that should be overcome.
The study showed that disabled children were almost four times
more susceptible to the risk of experiencing aggression and violence than those
children who are without any disability.
Further the risk of
sexual violence is higher in children with mental disability as compared to
children with other forms of physical disabilities or without any disability.
The way other individuals
treat disabled children greatly affects their quality of life. Disabled
children are easy targets of violence incidents due to societal stigma, social
discrimination, ignorance, wrong religious beliefs and perceptions,
non-availability of social support for careers, increased vulnerability due to
increased need for medical and social care and attention, inadequate
communication, etc. It is the duty of the government and civil society to
ensure that such victimization is exposed and prevented.
middle-income countries generally have higher population rates of disability,
higher levels of violence, and fewer support services than do high-income
Dr Etienne Krug, the
Director of WHO's Department of Violence and Injury Prevention and Disability,
commented, "The results of this review prove that children with
disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to violence, and their needs
have been neglected for far too long. We know that specific strategies exist to
prevent violence and mitigate its consequences. We now need to determine if
these also work for children with disabilities. An agenda needs to be set for
Prevalence and risk of violence against children
with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational
studies; Lisa Jones et al; The Lancet Online Publication 2012