Parents’ and carers’ views on preventing sexual abuse

Children and young people who have disabilities are at an increased risk of being abused compared with their non-disabled peers (Jones et al, 2012). 

Seeking the views and expertise of parents and carers is a vital part of understanding what we need to do to help keep disabled children safe from sexual abuse.

We wanted to find out what parents and carers of disabled children think about:

  • the most effective ways to keep their children safe from sexual abuse and where they feel they need more support
  • how they have conversations with their children about sexual abuse
  • who they go to for advice and support and how they would like professionals and other community groups to engage with them on preventing child sexual abuse.

We gathered insight from 30 parents and carers of disabled children, including children with physical and learning disabilities, and complex communication needs.

Authors: Anita Franklin, Alex Toft and Sarah Goff
Published: 2019

Download the report (PDF)


Key finding

Schools and other agencies should work in partnership with parents to ensure that disabled children receive consistent, clear, accessible information on safe touch, choice and control, puberty, sex, relationships and abuse, and knowing how to let others know when they feel unsafe.

Additional findings

Parents and carers need to have opportunities to discuss and share ideas with each other on safe touch, choice and control, puberty, sex, relationships and abuse in a safe and sensitive environment.

Disabled children should have access to communication methods and tools which enable them to have a level of choice and control, and access to a people who understand their communication method. This should be included in all children’s education, health and care plans. They should also be helped to understand that they have a right to be safe and to learn about who and how to let know if they do not feel safe.

Professionals need improved training to help them spot the signs of abuse in disabled children and prioritise the protection of disabled children.


“You can’t shield them so you have to be open and honest with them because you’re making them feel ashamed about their bodies and it’s not going to help the situation.”


“I think parents will always worry about their child, but when it is disability it is even more. It is amplified.”



Franklin, A., Toft, A. and Goff, S. (2019) “You fear everything that is out of your control. Because you are their safe one”: parents’/carers’ views on how we can work together to prevent the sexual abuse of disabled children. London: NSPCC.