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Sexuality, Vulnerability and young ID people in New Zealand : abuse, a hidden issue Dr Carol Hamilton Department of Human Development and Counseling Faculty.

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Presentation on theme: "Sexuality, Vulnerability and young ID people in New Zealand : abuse, a hidden issue Dr Carol Hamilton Department of Human Development and Counseling Faculty."— Presentation transcript:

1 Sexuality, Vulnerability and young ID people in New Zealand : abuse, a hidden issue Dr Carol Hamilton Department of Human Development and Counseling Faculty of Education University of Waikato

2 Sterilisation and Young ID People The lives of disabled people should be no different to their non-disabled counterparts “menstrual management”

3 We know that there is a problem when we ask people “How are you?” … and we are very likely to say we are fine, even though we might be extremely scared because the person who might be sitting alongside me is responsible for causing pain or whatever…. Flynn 2013 Winterbourne View Social History of Learning Disability Conference 2013

4 Q’s: NZ Literature Search for Survey What is the national prevalence rate of abuse of children (<18 yrs) with intellectual disabilities in New Zealand? Do rates vary: by disability type and severity, gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status? Who are the perpetrators? What percentage of incidents are reported? What percent of victims reach out for help - what percentage receive it?

5 The ‘Crisis’ = no verifiable data

6 Incidence of ID in New Zealand

7 Distribution of people with ID by DHB Ministry of Health 2012, p. 15

8 Ms B dragged Master A (age 15) backwards, used the rumpus room for time out, had Master A up against the wall with both hands around his throat... Ms B gave Master A his medications early... so that Master A would not ‘act out’. Mr C had advised that he had seen [Master A] be restrained, blocked with more aggression than required. “ [Master A] kicking full force, fell over. Person crouched over the person - moment of retaliation stance, body language - no violence or follow through.[Master A] not injured - [Ms B] did that. [Master A] trying to bite him/head butt. Foot swiped him - didn’t drop. Held onto upper body... turned and charged [Ms B]” At the meeting Mr C described Ms B as “not malicious” but “aggressive”... referred to incidents where Ms B was “forcing meds in yoghurt down... swearing “you fucking bastard”... Ms B has “40 minute” showers..[Master A] then wants toilet - on the floor. [Ms B] gets cross with him. Mr C raised concerns about Ms B’s suitability as a team leader... (HDC 2013, p. 7-8) Example Case 11HDC /06/2013

9 International Data Disabled(non-cognitively) children: % more likely to experience abuse and neglect than non-disabled peers Children with ID/Mental Health issues: 4.6% (4-10 times more likely) to experience all forms of abuse than non-disabled peers

10 She couldn’t tell us she had been hit but I couldn’t see what else could have caused the bruises. But nothing happened... as far as I know whoever did it still works there. Mother of a 13-year-old girl with learning disabilities I worry that we accept levels of neglect and really poor quality of care that we wouldn’t if it was an able-bodied child. Social worker NSPCC 2003 Sullivan (2003) has reported that those with ID and behavior disorders face greater risk of physical abuse, whereas those with ID and speech/language disorders are at risk of neglect. “It Doesn’t Happed to Disabled Children” Personal Stories

11 Reports detail Cultures of Compliance & Practices of Disbelief Ableism - a (binary) value system that deems people without disabilities as capable, rational, intelligent and autonomous and stereotypes people with disabilities as irrational, dependent and unintelligent. All children are trained in compliance to authority, however compliance is stressed to a greater degree for children with all forms of disabilities. e.g. disabled children are denied the right to say no to everyday choices - what they will wear or eat - leaving them unequipped to say no when someone is trying to hurt them. Children with ID are infantalised – their voices discounted, can be on high levels of medication = completely unequipped

12 “... the eldest of three girls with learning disabilities (ID) disclosed sexual abuse after she left home, by telling her hostel worker. The worker did not refer it to social services as it was considered that the two younger ones would not be able to disclose or make credible witnesses as their learning disability was more severe. When the second girl left home at 16 years and also disclosed sexual abuse an investigation was triggered. … the parents refused access for the 14-year-old to be interviewed, the police did not pursue the matter and social services did not initiate civil proceedings. It was considered that the two sisters’ statements alone were not credible” “It doesn’t happen to disabled children“ NSPCC p.32 The Impact of Diagnostic Overshadowing

13 Inadequacy of Prevention Initiatives Prevent abuse strategies primarily focus on changing the behavior – children identify and leave situations where they may be at risk. The risks unique to children with (intellectual) disabilities are rarely included. Children may have a personal care attendant who provides services - bathing and dressing - yet they are not taught to identify ‘bad touching’ in this context. Education, when offered, does not always match social realities or learning needs. Primary prevention efforts addressing societal norms, attitudes, and practices have yet to be developed. “It doesn’t happen to disabled children“ NSPCC p.45

14 What is needed in New Zealand Research Initiatives - similar to “it doesn’t happen to disabled children” Forums - bring together disabled people, family members and professionals from criminal justice, disability, health & medicine, education and victim services Merging of collective knowledge, skills, and experience to form a movement designed to address the abuse of all children with disabilities. Creation of a cohesive nationwide strategy

15 1 Meta Analysis of International Studies New Zealand is struggling to meet the needs of children with disabilities in foster care. Resourcing and educating social workers involved in care and protection needs to be a priority The Ministry of Social Development (2011) statistical report on reports of child abuse and maltreatment did not distinguish between children with or without disabilities. …children with disabilities can remain invisible, even when they are placed on the child protection registers. The MSD needs to begin documenting and recording statistics on reports of abuse and maltreatment against children with disabilities.

16 Review of C.Y.F. Complaints System (2012) In a final example, a child who has mental health issues raises a complaint. And another, and another. Suddenly there are 18 complaints in the system for this child. Each, again, dutifully investigated. Someone does not step back and say – there is a profound issue here and it is not complaints (CYF Review,p. 34)

17 Ministry of Social Development Family Violence (2007) Issues Covered Childhood sexual abuse Injury mortality and homicide Suicide Childhood neglect Ethnicity: Maori, Pacifica Peoples, other ethnic groups No (intellectual) disability section

18 The Maskill Report (2011) I mention – causes of ID Other causes, including brain injuries; encephalitis; meningitis; stroke; malnutrition; child abuse or neglect; environmental, sensory or social deprivation; poisoning (eg, from lead, mercury or copper); seizure disorders; demyelinating disorders; degenerative disorders; and brain tumours. (p. 4)

19 New Zealand Media

20 New Zealand Disability Strategy Objective 10 Collect and use relevant information about disabled people and disability issues - improve the quality of relevant disability information collected, analysed and used, including regular national surveys of activity limitation (NZDS, 2001, p, 10) Roguski. M. (2013). The Hidden Abuse of Disabled People Residing in the Community: An Exploratory Study. Tarawhiti Community Voice, Kaitiaki Research and Evaluation

21 Child Welfare Information Gateway.(2012) The Risk and Prevention of Maltreatment of Children with Disabilities. Access at: https://www.childwelfare.gov/https://www.childwelfare.gov/ Davis, L.A. (2011). Abuse of Children with Intellectual Disabilities. The Arc. Access at Flynn, M & Citarella, V South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board – Winterbourne View Hospital. CEDA Ltd. Access at: Health and Disability Commissioner.(2013). Disability Services Team Leader. Ms B Ministry of Health Health Indicators for New Zealanders with Intellectual Disability. Wellington: Ministry of Health. Nelson/Malborough District Health Board. Case 11HDC Access at NSPCC (2003). “It doesn’t happen to disabled children” Child Protection and Disabled Children Report of the National Working Group on Child Protection and Disability. Weston House, 42 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3NH. Roguski. M. (2013). The Hidden Abuse of Disabled People Residing in the Community: An Exploratory Study. Tarawhiti Community Voice, Kaitiaki Research and Evaluation Sanford, J, May, Saturday Kiwis must stamp out abuse. Accessed at kiwis-must-stamp-out-abuse-of-disabled Smith, N & Harrell, S.(2013). Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities: A National Snapshot. Child Law Practice. 32(7),


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