Abuse and Neglect: the Ugly Truth

Hands & Voices recently  interviewed Harold Johnson, PhD, from Michigan State   University on the subject  of Deaf/Hard of Hearing child abuse and neglect.  Please consider filling out the survey  mentioned at the end of this interview.

Q How serious is the problem of child abuse and neglect for  deaf or hard of hearing children?

Very serious!  While more research is needed to  determine the exact rate at which children who are deaf/hard of hearing  experience child neglect and/or abuse, it is known that children with  disabilities are MUCH more likely to experience child neglect and/or abuse than  their hearing peers, and that when the experience occurs it continues over a  longer period of time.

Q What kind of research has been done to further understand  this issue?

The available deaf education research has focused upon the  establishing incidence and causes of child neglect and abuse as experienced by  school-aged children who are deaf/hard of hearing.

Q Why hasn’t there been more effort towards finding solutions  to these problems?

The topic of child abuse and neglect is both extremely  unpleasant and complex. Other topics, e.g., literacy, language, cochlear  implants, academic performance, etc., are perceived to be more important, have  more funding opportunities, and a larger research base. The unfortunate  reality is that while many children experience neglect and/or abuse, many MORE  children with disabilities will have this experience. A child who experiences  neglect and/or abuse will very likely demonstrate poor “life choices” (e.g.,  running away from home, drug abuse, risky sexual behavior, eating disorders,  etc.) and substantially diminished academic skills. Children who are  deaf/hard of hearing do not need any more challenges to living and  learning!

Q How can Hands & Voices help?

H&V is recognized as a critical “force” for positive  change in the field of Deaf Education. Change is needed in how parents of  children who are deaf/hard of hearing and the professionals who work with them  are informed and supported concerning the topic of child neglect and  abuse. As a first step in the design of an intervention program, parents  and professionals are asked to take a few minutes to complete a brief, online  survey concerning their existing knowledge regarding child neglect and  abuse. This survey can be found at: http://www.deafed.net/PublishedDocs/CAN_Web_Intro.pdf Once the survey  results have been collected and analyzed, Hands & Voices will be invited to  join in a national collaborative effort to reduce the risk, frequency, and  duration that a child who is deaf/hard of hearing might experience neglect  and/or abuse.   ~