To assess the prevalence of abuse and neglect among a population of children identified as a function of an existing disability, relate specific types of disabilities to specific types of abuse, and to determine the effect of abuse and neglect on academic achievement and attendance rates for children with and without disabilities.
An electronic merger of school records with Central Registry, Foster Care Review Board, and police databases was followed by a detailed record review of the circumstances of maltreatment.
Analyses of the circumstances of maltreatment and the presence of disabilities established a 9% prevalence rate of maltreatment for nondisabled children and a 31% prevalence rate for the disabled children. Thus, the study established a significant association between the presence of an educationally relevant disability and maltreatment.
Children with disabilities are 3.4 times more likely to be maltreated than nondisabled peers. School professionals need to be cognizant of the high base rate of maltreatment among the children they serve. Disability status needs to be considered in national incidence studies of maltreatment.