Everyone who is responsible for, or in contact with, children and young people should be aware of the additional vulnerability of deaf and disabled individuals.
You don't need to understand every aspect of a person’s specific disability, condition or sensory needs, however you should consider their particular needs when planning your activity.
Indicators and signs of abuse
Like other children, disabled children will display signs (often behavioural) when they experience abuse, signs such as:
- mood swings
- changes in demeanour
- fear of a particular individual
However, aspects of their disability or sensory needs may make it harder for these to be recognised. These signs may be interpreted as a characteristic of the child’s disability and possible abuse may be overlooked, leaving the child at risk and vulnerable.
Learn more about child abuse in a sport setting and some other signs to look out for in the sporting environment.
Individual safeguarding responsibilities
All coaches, staff and volunteers at a club should:
- have safeguarding training outlining how and why deaf and disabled children are additionally vulnerable to abuse, and what steps can be taken to address this
- consider the implications for coaching methods: use of language, appropriate communication and additional support is provided for the activity
- ensure access to safeguarding information for the young person
- be clear about how the coach (and the disabled young person) should bring any concerns to the attention of the club welfare officer or someone with safeguarding responsibilities
- fully understand and work to the club’s safeguarding policies and procedures
- be clear about expectations of their own and other people’s behaviour, and about their responsibility to report concerns that arise
- ensure that the children and young people are aware of behaviour that will not be tolerated, making sure they have access to the codes of conduct and anti-bullying policy
- ensure appropriate supervision of the group both during activities and at other times (such as in changing rooms)
For further information on protecting deaf and disabled children and young people, including the risks and vulnerability factors, legislation and guidance, visit NSPCC Learning.