Promoting the safety of children and young people with intellectual disability: perspectives and actions of families and professionals
Robinson, S & Graham, A 2019, 'Promoting the safety of children and young people with intellectual disability: perspectives and actions of families and professionals', Children and Youth Services Review, vol. 104, art. 104404.
Published version available from
Background: Children and young people with intellectual disability experience high rates of abuse and neglect. In this Australian study, both children and young people with disability and their supporters shared their perspectives on safety and harm. This paper discusses how family members and professionals perceived and responded to priorities that had been separately identified by children and young people.
Method: Semi-structured interviews were conducted with six family members and ten disability support professionals working in a range of contexts. Data was coded and thematically analysed.
Results: Participants identified strategies that children and young people used when they felt unsafe, and tensions they regularly faced that made it difficult for them to be safe. Both family members and support professional perceived a need to build confidence and capability, embed support, and act on behalf of children and young people. Relationships were a priority for families, while professionals focused more on skill development. Systems were seen to play a causative role in impairing the capacity of children and young people to stay safe, through overly bureaucratic risk orientation, using too many staff young people didn't know, and poor understanding of disability-related needs in mainstream settings.
Conclusions: The key role of supporters in building capability and advocating for children and young people is affirmed, along with the need for accessible, evidence-informed education around safety and positive relationship building, and ways to promote the agency of children and young people.