We don't like to think about it, but our kids who are deaf or hard of hearing are at a higher risk for both abuse and neglect. Like any children, they are at risk. As children who might not always be able to communicate easily and fluently, or understand the nuances of conversation with neighbors, caregivers, or strangers, they are at an even higher risk of being victims of someone, somewhere...
If we can stop that cycle with even one child, one family... our efforts are more than worthwhile.
Hands & Voices is working closely with researcher Harold Johnson, formerly at Michigan State University, to understand the scope of this problem, partner with supporting agencies (who often need to learn more about deafness), and teach ourselves how best to Observe, Understand, and Respond to our children. To keep them safe. To keep them free to grow up in the innocence of childhood.
We are challenging one another to spread the word about this important topic. Parent Guides from CO Hands & Voices Guide By Your Side are participating in a pilot project, keeping logs of the questions that arise, and sharing thoughts as they learn more about this topic.
There’s a lot more that we can be doing beyond wringing our hands in frustration. Below are resources that will be useful to parents in developing skills that will prepare us to share effectively with their own children. But don’t just stop at your own child or student, here are some things that you can do to help others be prepared:
Pass-It-On: Share the articles, posted below, and its related resources, with at least one other parent, and then ask them to “pass-it-on.”
Share the Story: Have a conversation with your child about abuse and neglect (see attached “Helping Parents Talk to Children” below) then share the story of how it went so that other parents can learn from your experience.
Recognize the Best and Challenge Everyone Else: Ask the professionals who work with your child what they are doing to protect your child from abuse and neglect, then share the resulting reactions, information, resources, programs, and questions so that we recognize the best and challenge everyone else.