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Preventing sexual abuse for children with disability

What you need to know

  • Sexual abuse is wrong
  • It hurts children and their families and is illegal.
  • Getting help early gives children and young people the best chance of healing.

The topic of sexual abuse is hard for families and carers to deal with. This information aims to help keep children safe. 

It is unclear exactly how frequently sexual abuse of children and young people with disability happens, but it is known to be significantly more than those without disability.

Children and young people with disability need:

  • to be taught about their body parts and bodily changes
  • accurate information about sex and what is sexual abuse
  • ways to express if something is wrong or frightening
  • the ability to communicate “no” in an uncomfortable or abusive situation
  • to be able to inform someone if they have been abused—and be believed
  • trustworthy relationships and safe people to help them.

Sexual abusers might target children and young people with disability who:

  • are affectionate and trusting
  • don’t have many friends and are looking for affection
  • are reliant on others for assistance, particularly for personal care
  • have learnt to passively obey adults, especially carers and others in authority
  • have difficulties communicating and can’t easily tell others about the abuse.

Sexual abusers are mostly male, but females abuse too. Sexual abusers might:

  • seek out and target vulnerable people, like children with disability
  • find ways to spend time with children on their own
  • offer to help by providing respite
  • often target children of single parents (mostly mothers)
  • encourage secrets
  • make threats to hide abuse 
  • abuse on their own or with others.


Child Abuse Report Line

Phone: 131 478