Children with disabilities in the developing world are frequently subjected to severe emotional and physical punishment, according to an analysis of data compiled by UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund.
An estimated 93 million children around the world have disabilities, including emotional, developmental and physical impairments. Eighty percent of them live in middle- and low-income countries and according to experts, are subject to harsh discipline.
Professional nurse, Laura Murphy (R) and volunteer, Loretta Gaughan from Ireland feed children at an orphanage for mentally disabled children under the Vesnova institution, near the Belarussian village of Vesnova, June 6, 2013.
Using nationally representative samples of 45,964 two- to nine-year-old children and their primary caregivers in 17 developing countries, this study examined the relations between children’s cognitive, language, sensory, and motor disabilities and caregivers’ use of discipline and violence. Primary caregivers reported on their child’s disabilities and whether they or anyone in their household had used nonviolent discipline, psychological aggression, and physical violence toward the target child and believed that using corporal punishment is necessary. Logistic regression analyses supported the hypothesis that children with disabilities are treated more harshly than children without disabilities. The findings suggest that policies and interventions are needed to work toward the United Nations’ goals of ensuring that children with disabilities are protected from abuse and violence.