Instructors - Participants with Disabilities

Help and advice from the Child Protection in Sport Unit
Here are some practical ways for your organisation to help safeguard the children and young people who take part in your activities:

Children or young people with disabilities should have the same rights and opportunities as others involved in sport to have fun and be safe. Their particular vulnerability to abuse or neglect requires sports clubs/organisations to take additional steps to safeguard them.

  • Information relating to club policies and procedures should be fully accessible to children and young people with communication difficulties.
  • Specialist training or advice should be sought by clubs/organisations that involve children/young people with disabilities in sport. For example, when staff/volunteers need to guide blind or partially sighted children, training will help ensure that they use the most appropriate methods. If training is not available, ask the child for advice or seek the advice of parents or carers.
  • When transporting children with disabilities, the vehicles used should meet the needs of the children and be roadworthy. Appropriate and trained escorts should be in attendance in the vehicle.
  • When children with disabilities are lifted or manually supported, the individual child should be treated with dignity and respect. Relevant health and safety guidelines must be followed to ensure the safety of the child and those assisting. It is recommended that those assisting receive appropriate training.
    Vulnerability of those with a disability
    In the largest study into the issue of disabled children and abuse, Sullivan & Knutson (2000) found that 31% of disabled children had been abused, compared to a percentage rate of 9% among the non-disabled child population. Source: Sullivan, P. M. and Knutson J, F. (2000) Maltreatment and disabilities: a population-based epidemiological study. Child Abuse and Neglect, 24(10): 1257-73.

It is recognised that children with a disability:

  • have the same needs and require the same safeguards as all children
  • may also have additional needs associated with their disability, which may increase their vulnerability to abuse
  • are often more dependent on adults, e.g. in intimate care needs and may be cared for by a number of different adults. Such children often spend a lot of time away from home
  • may be unable to recognise abusive behaviour because they may have learning difficulties or a lack of awareness, and/or reduced exposure to the norm of adult/children interactions. For example, a child with disabilities may have difficulty in differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate touching
  • particularly those with physical disabilities, may have a poor and/or incomplete body image and therefore may not recognise inappropriate behaviour.

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