If your child has a disability they could be even more vulnerable to the dangers of sexual exploitation. Up to three or four times greater in fact, with young people with learning or communication difficulties thought to be at particular risk. 

 

Why the increased risk? A recent study found a number reasons:

  • Children and young people with a disability tend to be isolated with fewer friends.
  • Increased isolation or communications needs can result in more time spent on the internet which increases their vulnerability when online.
  • Often, their parents are highly protective of them, meaning they haven’t learned how to look after themselves.
  • Sometimes their disability means they’re not always listened to – and, in turn, don’t always expect to be listened to.
  • It can be harder for people to imagine disabled people having sexual feelings or wanting sexual relationships.
  • As a result, they might not have had the same sex education as other young people.
  • Their disability can make it difficult for them to recognise that they are being exploited.
  • People may be less likely to believe them – and both they and the offender may know this.

​Protecting your child

To help protect your child from sexual exploitation read our page on keeping your child safe online and have a chat to them about it afterwards. Encourage them to talk to you if anyone or anything online makes them feared uncomfortable, anxious or scared.

Also, know how to recognise the signs of abuse and who to contact for help and support. That way, if someone does approach your child intent on doing them harm, you might be able to put a stop to things before they get out of hand.