Victimization of Children With Disabilities

Irit Hershkowitz, Michael E. Lamb, Dvora Horowitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Children with disabilities (CWDs) are more likely to be victims of child abuse but may have more difficulty than their typically developing (TD) peers reporting their experiences. In this study, the authors examined the characteristics of abuse reported by CWDs based on forensic statements made by 40430 alleged abuse victims, 11% categorized as children with minor disabilities, and 1.2% categorized as children with severe disabilities. Proportionally more of the CWDs than of the TD children were allegedly victims of sexual rather than physical abuse. CWDs failed to disclose abuse and delayed disclosure more often than TD suspected victims. CWDs were more likely than TD children to be abused by parent figures and to experience physical abuse resulting in body injury or serious sexual offenses, including those involving penetration, repeated abuse, use of force, and threats. Higher levels of disability were associated with increased risk of sexual abuse. Both the heightened incidence of severe abuse among and the failure to disclose abuse by CWDs should be sources of considerable concern to social welfare and criminal justice agencies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)629-635
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Orthopsychiatry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2007


  • child abuse
  • disability
  • disclosure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)


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