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Deaf children: are we keeping them safe?

24 May 2016

University joins forces with NSPCC for first conference of its kind

Research shows deaf and disabled children are three times more at risk of abuse than non-disabled children.

Deaf children can experience a set of barriers that may make them more vulnerable to abuse. It might be attitudes and assumptions in society; they may be reliant on others for seeking help; or those in a child’s network may not be familiar with their method of communication, such as British Sign Language.

But all children have a right to be and feel safe. 

This is why the NSPCC,  in partnership with the University,  voluntary organisations, education, social care and mental health have been working together to raise the profile of child protection and deaf children.  

As a result the first conference of its kind will take place on Thursday, 26 May here on campus.

Delegates from health, children’s social care, education, police, and mental health will gather at the University to hear from a range of speakers concerned with safeguarding deaf children. They will discuss the specific safeguarding needs of deaf children and their families, and how partnership working is the way forward to challenging barriers in child protection.

Shirley Wilson, NSPCC Consultant for deaf and disabled children and young people, said: “We already know deaf young people are at greater risk of abuse than non-disabled children. 

“We also know how hard it is to report abuse and we know from research that people have kept quiet for years before having the confidence as deaf adults to be able to report.

“This conference is about how we use learning from research, good practice and understanding to make sure we keep deaf children safe, and work together to create a strategy for the future. 

“It is vital that we meet now to make sure we give deaf children the best possibility of a safe, secure and positive childhood.”

Professor of Social Work, Alys Young, from our School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work, said: “Deaf children are one of the most overlooked groups amid the many reforms and consultations designed to enhance safeguarding practice in the UK today. 

“Social Work at the University strongly supports this important initiative led by the NSPCC to secure a safer future for deaf children through the combined efforts of skilled practitioners, committed parents, deaf organisations and a unified agency approach.”