Deaf children at higher risk of abuse

Jan. 25, 2011 at 11:15 PM
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ROCHESTER, N.Y., Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Deaf and hard-of-hearing children are neglected, abused and otherwise maltreated at a rate 25 percent greater than others, U.S. researchers say.

Researchers at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York directly correlate childhood maltreatment and higher rates of negative cognition, depression and post-traumatic stress in adulthood.

The researchers found 77 percent of deaf and hard-of-hearing respondents indicated experiencing some form of child maltreatment, vs. 49 percent among hearing respondents. In addition, respondents with more severe hearing loss indicated an increased rate and severity of maltreatment.

"By providing clear data on the high rate of childhood maltreatment in the deaf community, we hope to shine a light on the issue and provide mental-health professionals with the necessary data to better treat both children and adults suffering from mental and behavioral disorders," study leader Lindsay Schenkel says in a statement.

Schenkel and colleagues conducted a survey of 425 college students -- 317 hearing and 108 deaf -- asking them to describe any maltreatment they had experienced prior to age 16.

The findings were presented in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the Association of Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies.

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