Response to story on abuse at deaf school in America

There was a rather sad reminder last week that deaf children are more likely to be abused, when news broke of a school in America where 200 deaf children had been abused over two decades from the 1950s.

Reading the papers, it was hard to tell what was most distressing. The seemingly woeful lack of action taken by those in charge at the Catholic Church when the allegations came to light and a continuing attitude which comes across, in my view, as not particularly apologetic.

Or the fact that deaf children and people had been trying to speak out about these allegations for years and had been effectively ignored. In the end, the abuser died before he could be brought to justice.

The hope is that something like that could never happen again. Yet research by the University of Manchester earlier in the year shows that most local authorities in England are pretty poor in their social care and child protection arrangements for deaf children. NDCS is calling on all Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards to conduct a review of their local child protection arrangements.

PS Just a reminder that the views expressed in this blog are mine only.


Are social care services meeting the needs of deaf children?

There was a striking story in the papers yesterday about a NSPCC statement that at least 60 children are sexually abused a day. It reminded me of separate statistics suggesting that deaf children are at least twice as likely to be abused than other children – not because they’re deaf, but because the communication barriers that deafness imposes may make it harder for deaf children to say what is happening or because they may be perceived to be an ‘easy target’. Fortunately, it’s still very rare.

NDCS is doing lots of work in the first half of this year over social care services for deaf children – not just to prevent abuse, but to ensure deaf children and their families get the support they need. For example, to get specialist equipment like flashing fire alarms and arrange communication classes for the whole family. Research to be published in late February is expected to show that most don’t, despite the fact that deaf children are recognised in law as “children in need”.

Five years ago, the Government recognised this and recommended that Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards conduct a review of local social care services for every deaf child in their area. To NDCS’s knowledge, to date, none of them have done so. NDCS has had some initial conversations with officials with Department for Children, Schools and Families about how we can make sure these reviews happen, five years on, and hopefully this is something we’ll be working together on. There’s also a couple of consultations NDCS intends to respond to.

If you’ve got a deaf child now, how much contact and support have you had from social care services? Does the support meet your needs? NDCS is looking for examples – good and bad – of how social care services work with families of deaf children. If you’d like to share your experiences in confidence, drop us a line at or leave a message below.

Lame response from Laming review on social care

American research suggests that deaf children are three to four times more likely to be abused than other children. And research from the University of Manchester suggests that deaf children are invisible on the social care radar.

So you would think that a major review into child protection arrangements in England would have something to say about ensuring that social workers and the general workforce know how to ensure deaf children are safe from harm.

Nope. Nada. Zilch.

Lord Laming published a reveiw of child protection arrangements last week, following the Baby P tragedy last year. NDCS and NSPCC submitted a lengthy response highlighting the vulnerability of deaf children. Sadly, the review makes no recommendations that directly address the needs of deaf children. They just don’t seem to figure as a priority worth highlighting.

A huge missed opportunity, and very disappointing. We intend to write to the Government to ask how, in implementing the Laming review, deaf children will benefit.