Preventing abuse of deaf and hard of hearing children: what teachers can do
Jennifer Johnson discusses her work with the American College Educators-Deaf and Hard of Hearing (ACE-DHH) group to address maltreatment of children with communicative disabilities and deafness. The ACE-DHH Child Maltreatment Work Group has targeted two documents in which the inclusion of safety statements could protect deaf and hard of hearing children as well as children with communicative disabilities. Those documents, the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), the document that guides and supports families of children who are deaf or hard of hearing up to 3 years old, and the Individualized Education Program (IEP), the document that supports the education of deaf and hard of hearing children from ages 3 to 21, are familiar to educators of deaf and hard of hearing children. Some deaf and hard of hearing children with delayed language acquisition are unable to answer questions beginning with "who," "what," "when," "where," or "how." The inability puts those children at a greater risk of being abused because perpetrators know the child will not be able to communicate when abuse is suspected. In September 2017, the Council for Exceptional Children, Hands & Voices, Kidpower, and the ACE-DHH released a letter addressing both the knowledge and the action necessary to protect these children. Signs that a child is experiencing abuse are provided in the article, and 5 tips to incorporate abuse prevention in the classroom are also provided. All those who work with children who have communication disorders have a responsibility to keep children safe and be on the alert for abuse. Participating in training and learning how to recognize the signs are key.