Abuse & 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.   ~

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