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Medline ® Abstract for Reference 51

of 'Promoting safety in children with disabilities'

Patterns of physical and sexual abuse of communicatively handicapped children.
Sullivan PM, Brookhouser PE, Scanlan JM, Knutson JF, Schulte LE
Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1991;100(3):188.
Evidence suggests that handicapped children are at increased risk for abuse and neglect. Communicatively impaired youngsters are particularly vulnerable because of their limited ability to report the maltreatment. Of 482 abused handicapped children evaluated at Boys Town National Research Hospital, 212 had hearing impairment, 87 speech language disorders, 39 learning disorders, 43 behavioral-emotional disturbances, 74 mental retardation, 5 visual impairment, 3 cleft lip or palate, and 19 other disorders. The perpetrator was either a relative or a "trusted other" in 97.2% of sexual abuse cases. Handicapped males were much more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than nonhandicapped males in the general population. Children being educated in residential schools were more likely to be sexually abused than mainstreamed youngsters. These children may be at risk for abuse from a wide variety of potential perpetrators, including teachers, dormitory counselors, van drivers, clergy, classroom aides, older students, peer siblings, scout leaders, abused peers, baby-sitters, and custodians.
Boys Town National Research Hospital, Omaha, Nebraska 68131.