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Children with disabilities in situations of armed conflict - a discussion paper

THOMAS, Edward
et al
November 2018

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During armed conflict, children with disabilities are caught in a vicious cycle of violence, social polarization, deteriorating services and deepening poverty. Global estimates suggest there are between 93 million and 150 million children with disabilities under the age of 15.Given that disability is often not reported due to stigma there is reason to believe actual prevalence could be much higher. Although efforts to ensure the fulfilment of their rights have improved, girls and boys with disabilities continue to remain among the most marginalized and excluded segment of the population. This is amplified during situations of armed conflict. The barriers to full participation they face on a day-to-day basis are intensified and compounded when infrastructure is destroyed, and services and systems are compromised and made inaccessible. This results in the further exclusion and marginalization of children with disabilities, and prevents them from accessing schooling, health and psychosocial support, or a means of escape from conflict.

 

When systems and services break down, children are also left more susceptible to violence. Injuries sustained by many children during armed conflict may also lead to long-term impairments. There are six grave violations of children’s rights and protection in armed conflict that are on the agenda of the United Nations (UN) Security Council; killing and maiming, recruitment and use of children, rape or other sexual violence, abduction, attacks on schools or hospitals, and denial of humanitarian access. Governments around the world have committed themselves to respect, promote, and fulfil the rights of children with disabilities, including in situations of armed conflict, and progress is being made. Efforts by a broad range of actors to implement the CRPD, CRC and other human rights instruments include the development of standards to address the rights and needs of persons with disabilities in humanitarian crises, and guidance on making humanitarian response, development and peacebuilding more inclusive. Efforts to improve the collection and use of data concerning children and adults with disabilities are also underway. Yet, as this discussion paper makes clear, much more needs to be done. Investments in disability-inclusive humanitarian action and recovery from crises will pay off, contributing towards a dividend of peace built on greater equality, tolerance and justice. 

Defying the barriers

KHONDKAR, Laila
HAQUE, Reazul Md
January 2018

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Research summaries, case studies and process documentation from “Inclusive Protection and Empowerment Project for Children with Disabilities (IPEP)” are presented.  The aim of the project was to build resilience and capacity among children with disabilities and to create a violence-free community for them. The project ran in five districts of Bangladesh i.e. Sylhet, Dhaka, Barishal, Rangpur and Gaibandha from 2014- 2017. 

 

The research topics were:

  • Understanding the Vulnerabilities of Children with Disabilities Living in both Government-run and Private Residential Institutions
  • The Vulnerabilities of Children with Disabilities from Low-income Households
  • Social Protection Schemes Relevant to Children with Disabilities and their Families 

 

Sexual Abuse of Persons with Disabilities - Research

ALEY, Rob
et al
November 2016

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Abstract
The aim of the research was to investigate the social, cultural and institutional factors which contribute to the high incidence of sexual abuse of persons with disabilities in East Africa and to identify interventions which could change detrimental attitudes, beliefs and practices which perpetuate this high incidence. The research is framed within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability (UNCRPD), particularly articles 12, 13 and 16.

The study used a qualitative participatory action research approach and worked with local partner organisations and Ugandan and Kenyan field level researchers to collect data. Survivors of sexual abuse were not interviewed but instead the research investigated the understandings, beliefs and practices of a range of service providers and key responders who are involved in the prevention of and response to sexual abuse against persons with disabilities in their communities. Groups consulted included police, teachers, health-care workers, government administrators, faith and community organisations and traditional leaders, as well as persons with disabilities and their parents. Participatory workshops were run with a reference group of people with disabilities (with a range of impairments and experiences) and relevant specialists at the initial stage and during the participatory analysis process. After initial orientation and training the field researchers undertook a total of 52 individual interviews and 9 focus group discussions with a range of stakeholders.

The overall findings show that social attitudes and understanding of disability and sexuality in general are strong influencing factors on the risks that persons with disability face in relation to sexual abuse. Participants reported a range of harmful attitudes and beliefs about disability and about the needs and rights of persons with disabilities. It is very common for cases of abuse to go unreported and to be dealt with at the family or community level, rather than being viewed as a serious criminal matter which should be taken to the formal authorities. Many barriers exist, especially at community level which mean abuse does not get reported. Lack of awareness and knowledge, stigma and exclusion and poverty were key drivers of continuing abuse and survivors of abuse seldom get proper support. Guidelines, training and clear procedures for good practice in the various professions were generally weak or absent. Key recommendations were generated for both community level interventions and in relation to policy and training at regional and national levels. The practical implementation of some recommendations was undertaken.

Education for all? This is still not a reality for most children with disabilities

HANDICAP INTERNATIONAL
2015

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This advocacy briefing paper presents key information about the inclusion of children with disabilities in the education system. It highlights key facts, gaps in the provision of an equitable education system, the benefits of inclusive education and legal policy and frameworks. It outlines practical steps can be taken by education actors at different levels and suggests ways to measure progress

 

Advocacy briefing paper

Post school transition : the experiences of students with disability

CHILDREN WITH DISABILITY AUSTRALIA (CDA)
December 2015

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The transition from school is an important period. All young people should be supported throughout this time to access options which allow them to meaningfully participate and contribute to our society as adults. Many young people with disability however have extremely poor post school transition experiences.

This report is based on the direct experience of young people with disability. The paper highlights key issues from current research, legislation and consultations with key stakeholders. It explores present and past school transition practices, barriers faced by students with disability and presents recommendations for improving outcomes and options for post school transition of students with disability

Changing attitudes to child disability in Africa

THE LANCET
December 2014

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This brief editorial published in the Lancet highlights the situation of disabled children in Africa with reference to the 2014 publication of The African Report on Children with Disabilities by The African Child Policy Forum

 

The Lancet, Vol 384, No. 9959

Strengthening participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy

SIMMONS, Dr. Catharine
ROBINSON, Dr. Sally
October 2014

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Participation by children and young people in advocacy and change-making can not only improve and foster positive change in their own lives, but also influence the lives of others. When young people’s participation is supported, meaningful and engaged, multiple benefits accrue; their perspectives and experiences bring a unique contribution and can result in rights-based empowerment, enacted citizenship and improved relationships. This has the potential to shape policy, to increase the relevance and responsiveness of organisations they use, and to influence change in their communities in positive ways

 

However, there are significant issues and a range of barriers that discourage, prevent or actively exclude children and young people with disability from participating. A culture of low expectations, social and cultural barriers, relationship and identity difficulties and practical hurdles exist for many young people. As a result, many are precluded from participation, particularly around change-making activities

 

This paper examines how meaningful participation of children and young people with disability in advocacy and change-making can be strengthened. In the paper CDA calls for the promotion of children and young people’s participation as active and valued community members

 

This paper is also available at https://www.cyda.org.au/cda-issue-papers

 

Issue Papers

HRW says disabled children in Russia face violence, isolation, neglect

PODELCO, Grant
September 2014

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This article reports on the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report which documents how children with disabilities in Russian orphanages face abuse, neglect and isolation.  The report found that nearly 30 percent of all Russian children with disabilities are removed from their parents and live in state orphanages, where they face neglect and sometimes violence. The report recommendations push for the government and other actors to protect children in institutions from abuse and neglect, better support families raising children with disabilities, and move toward ending institutionalisation of children with disabilities. This article presents seven photo slides, a case study, the key findings and recommendations of the report, an interview with the author and a link to the related HRW video

Abandoned by the state : violence, neglect, and isolation for children with disabilities in Russian orphanages

MAZZARINO, Andrea
September 2014

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This report presents the situation of violence, neglect, and isolation for children with disabilities in Russian orphanages.  The report is based on visits by Human Rights Watch researchers to 10 orphanages in 6 regions of Russia, as well as on more than 200 interviews with parents, children, and young people currently and formerly living in institutions in these regions in addition to 2 other regions of Russia. It finds that many children and young people with disabilities who have lived in state orphanages suffered serious abuse and neglect on the part of institution staff that impedes their development. The report presents the background of the current situation and its detailed findings. and makes recommendations to key Russian stakeholders to ensure protection of the rights of children with disabilities in Russia and to comply with its international human rights obligations

Note: Easy read version is available from the web link

Belonging and connection of school students with disability

ROBINSON, Dr. Sally
TRUSCOTT, Julia
February 2014

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All students want to feel like they belong and that they are valued in their school community. School is a centrally important place to young people — not only where they learn fundamental academic knowledge, but also where skills in making and keeping friends, relating to peers, and social justice principles are learnt and practiced. What happens when young people feel like they don’t belong?

 

This paper examines a series of key issues about belonging and connection for students with disability and demonstrates research that shows:

• Feeling a sense of belonging and connection makes a positive difference to school life

There are a number of key elements to belonging and connection — friendship, peer acceptance, capability, being valued and supportive relationships with key adults

• When belonging and connection are threatened, there are several areas in which the impact is seen. The friendships of students are limited; they are lonely; the places they can go within the school are controlled; there are tensions in negotiating support relationships; students feel and are excluded; and kid’s strengths aren’t seen by other students or adults in their school communities

• Bullying is a particularly strong threat to a felt sense of belonging and connection

 

The paper is also available at https://www.cyda.org.au/cda-issue-papers

 

Issue Papers

Inclusion in education : towards equality for students with disability

COLOGON, Kathy
2013

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All children in Australia have the right to an inclusive education. However, there are many barriers to the realisation of this right in the lived experience of children and families. Current efforts towards upholding the rights of all children are impeded by a lack of understanding of inclusive education and misappropriation of the term. Additional barriers include negative and discriminatory attitudes and practices, lack of support to facilitate inclusive education, and inadequate education and professional development for teachers and other professionals. Critical to addressing all of these barriers is recognising and disestablishing ableism in Australia.

This paper draws from recent research in addressing gaps in current understanding to provide a firm basis from which to inform research based policy development. Taking a rights-based approach, the paper focuses on developing a clear understanding of inclusive education and identifying strategies to enhance the education of all children in Australia

Take us seriously! Engaging children with disabilities in decisions affecting their lives

LANSDOWNE, Gerison
et al
June 2013

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UNICEF’s work on disability is based on a human rights approach, with a focus on equity. It has been developed within the framework of inclusive development, and actively promotes the social model of disability. A central tenet is that legislation, policies and programmes must be informed and shaped by the children they will affect. Participation is a foundational principle of a rights-based approach. These guidelines are meant to strengthen the capacity of UNICEF and partners in creating opportunities for children with disabilities to exercise their right to be heard and taken seriously.

It is important to:

  • clearly identify obstacles impeding the participation of children with disabilities;
  • examine why participation is important for children with disabilities;
  • provide practical guidance on how and where to reach out and engage children with disabilities more effectively and systematically;
  • prioritize ways to measure the effectiveness of participatory initiatives with children with disabilities. 

Disability orientation

UNITED NATIONS CHILDREN'S FUND (UNICEF)
May 2013

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"This web-based disability orientation for staff is a multi-media, 40-minute video that includes interesting and thought provoking statements, resources and good practices from UNICEF and partners from across the globe. The objective of the orientation is to strengthen understanding of, and capacity to support, programming for children and women with disabilities. The Disability Orientation consists of two main modules, each module has five lessons. The first part of the Orientation provides an overview of the disability movement and what disability means according to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The second part of the Orientation focusses on how to mainstream disability through our work. The Orientation on Disability can be taken individually or in groups"
Note: Video is available with English subtitles as well as accessibility options like voice over and American Sign Language

Enabling and protecting : proactive approaches to addressing the abuse and neglect of children and young people with disability

ROBINSON, Sally
2012

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Many families report to Children with Disability Australia (CDA) that their children are subjected to limited opportunities, low expectations, exclusion, bullying, discrimination, assault, and violation of their human rights.

 

This paper draws from recent research about abuse and neglect and from national policy approaches in child protection and disability to better understand the causes, experience and responses to maltreatment of children and young people with disability.

 

A series of key concerns about abuse and neglect are raised to stimulate discussion and action which is in the interests of children and young people. Taking a rights informed approach, the paper focuses on building more effective national responses to children and young people who are maltreated

 

The user has given permission for the uploaded document to be reproduced and made publicly available on the Source website

Parent’s participation in the social inclusion of children with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia

BECIREVIC, Majda
DOWLING, Monica
February 2012

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"This study examines the attitudes and actions of parents of children with disabilities in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and Croatia. Part of the former Yugoslavia, these two Southeastern European countries have undergone major economic and socio-political changes since the early 90s. Historically disabled children with disabilities suffered high levels of social and educational exclusion in these countries whereas now a public discussion of inclusion and children’s rights prevails"

Out from the shadows : sexual violence against children with disabilities

ELLERY, Francis
LANSDOWNE, Gerison
CSÁKY, Corinna
2011

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This document is an advocacy report on sexual violence against children with disabilities. It is based on evidence generated from a literature review and primary research in four African countries. Adults with disabilities who had been abused as children were interviewed, as well as carers, lawyers, judges, police, social workers, teachers and members of disabled people's organisations. The report concludes with a set of recommendations, developed in consultation with children, young people and professionals working globally on this issue

Including disabled children in psychosocial programmes in areas affected by armed conflict

VON DER ASSEN, Nina
EUWEMA, Mathijs
CORNIELJE, Huib
2010

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"Children with disabilities are more vulnerable to violence, as well as more likely to experience psychosocial problems in situations of armed conflict than children with no disabilities. All children who live in conflict affected areas have the same rights to psychosocial support, as enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child and in the case of disabled children, additionally the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. However, children with disabilities are often overlooked in psychosocial programmes. In this article, the authors examine the reasons behind this observed exclusion and suggest ways to increase the participation of children with disabilities"
Intervention, Vol 8, No 1

See me, hear me : a guide to using the UN Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities to promote the rights of children

LANSDOWN, Gerison
2009

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See Me, Hear Me examines how the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) can be used to support disabled children, alongside the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The guide analyses the inter-relationship of the two Conventions and provides examples of good practice on how both Conventions should be implemented by governments with regards to children. This guide is a useful tool for child and disability rights advocates, government officials, and anybody interested in child and/or disability rights

A custom distorted : beliefs about sexual abuse involving teenagers with intellectual disability at a rural setting in South Africa

PHASHA, N
MYAKA, Lucy
2009

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This paper is based upon the findings of a study that took place in a rural setting in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. It describes the social problem of sexual abuse of teenagers with intellectual disabilities by analyzing the roots of common misconceptions of intellectual disability, which render these teenagers vulnerable to sexual abuse. This paper is useful for anyone interested in learning more about disability and misconceptions of disability in Africa

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