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WHO study finds children with disabilities more likely to experience violence

(Xinhua)

15:08, July 12, 2012

GENEVA, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Children with disabilities are 3.7 times more likely to experience violence than non-disabled children, according to a World Health Organization (WHO) review published Thursday.

Factors which place children with disabilities at higher risk of violence include stigma, discrimination, and ignorance about disability, as well as a lack of social support for those who care for them, according to the studies.

The studies also revealed that placement of children with disabilities in institutions increases their vulnerability to violence.

Researchers conducted 17 studies among 18,374 children with disabilities from seven high-income countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

Tom Shakespeare, WHO Technical Officer of Disability and Rehabilitation, told reporters on Wednesday that disabilities mentioned in the review cover physical, sensory, and intellectual impairements, mental illness and multiple disabilities.

A total of 93 million children in the world live with disabilities by this definition, he said.

The review also adopts a broad definition of violence, which includes physical violence, sexual violence, emotional abuses and neglect, or combination of those, Shakespeare said.

Christopher Mikton, WHO Technical Officer of Violence Prevention, said establishing the prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities is just the first step towards preventing such violence and remedying those who have suffered from it.

He suggested certain measures that could be taken, including nurse home visiting, parents education and child sexual abuse prevention strategies.

Experts also stressed the urgent need for high-quality research in low-income and middle-income countries.

WHO statistics showed that approximately 20 percent of women and 5 to 10 percent of men report being sexually abused as children, while 25 to 50 percent of all children report being physically abused.

The review was published Thursday in the medical journal The Lancet.

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