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Listing: Preventing Abuse and Neglect of Children with Disabilities

Media Type

Online Resource

Reviewed Date

May 1, 2023


Parenting or providing care for a child with a disability can be challenging to the caregiver, the child, family members and friends. Children and adolescents with disabilities are at greater risk for abuse or neglect than those without disabilities. 

Illinois law requires all healthcare providers to report any reasonable suspicions of child maltreatment to the Department of Children and Family Services.

The following information lists family stressors and risks; defines abuse and neglect; and provides a list of community resources to contact for support. If you recognize any of the risk factors listed in anyone you know, get help before stress becomes neglect or abuse.

Family Stressors
• Multiple disabilities in a child
• Physical and emotional changes of adolescence combined with a disability
• Finances
• Difficulty dealing with medical and educational systems
• New injuries to a child causing feelings of overwhelming loss in a parent.

Risk Factors for Child Maltreatment
• Increased dependency on parents and adult caregivers
• Longer periods of dependency with increased intensity
• Increased family stress and isolation.

Definitions of Abuse

Physical Abuse of a Child or Infant
When someone:
• Causes injury or risk of harm by hitting, shaking, shoving, kicking, punching, beating, biting, holding a child's hand under hot water
• Leaves a child or infant alone with a known child abuser
• Allows anyone else to torture a child.

Sexual Abuse
When someone:
• Commits or allows anyone to commit a sex offense against a child under the age of 18 years
• Uses a child for sexual arousal
• Uses a child for profit
• Touches a child inappropriately, such as fondling a child's genitals.

Definitions of Neglect

Medical Neglect
When someone:
• Does not provide or denies basic needs such as food, water, clothing, shelter
• Provides child with drugs or alcohol
• Gives birth to an infant whose blood or urine contains alcohol or drugs
• Leaves a child or infant alone for long periods of time
• Fails to provide medical treatment or attend appointments for therapy.

Financial Neglect
When someone:
• Spends a child's disability money for personal gain such as purchase of clothing, jewelry or drugs
• Withholds money that is rightfully due to the child or infant with a disability.

Emotional Neglect
When someone:
• Uses verbal or non–verbal communication that causes mental distress or suffering
• Ignores a child or infant to the point that there is serious behavioral, cognitive, emotional or mental consequence
• Abuses a spouse in front of the child.

To report suspected abuse in Illinois call 1-800-25-ABUSE (1-800-252-2873).
Outside of Illinois, call 1-800-422-4453.

For help and information on this topic:

Illinois Department of Children and Family Services- Child Protection
Call the 24-hour Child Abuse Hotline at 800-25-ABUSE (800-252-2873

US Department of Children and Family Services

Chicago Childrens Advocacy Center
1240 S. Damen Ave. Chicago, IL 60608
(312) 492-3700 - Contact Us

Prevent Child Abuse-IL: 1.800.25.ABUSE
Prevent Child Abuse Illinois (PCA Illinois) is a free standing 501(c)(3) charitable organization and the chartered state chapter of Prevent Child Abuse America

Child Help National Child Abuse Hotline 
1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

National Children's Alliance
NCA is the national association and accrediting body for the largest network of care centers for child victims of abuse in the United States
(312) 492-3700 Chicago office

Child Welfare Information Gateway
Child Welfare Information Gateway promotes the safety, permanency, and well-being of children, youth, and families by connecting child welfare, adoption, and related professionals as well as the public to information, resources, and tools covering topics on child welfare, child abuse and neglect, out-of-home care, adoption, and more. A service of the Children's Bureau, Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, we provide access to print and electronic publications, websites, databases, and online learning tools for improving child welfare practice, including resources that can be shared with families.


This content is for informational purposes only and may not be comprehensive. Information contained does not imply an endorsement from Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, and does not replace the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.  See here  for further details.

© Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago)
Henry B. Betts LIFE Center – (312) 238-5433

Photo by Austrian National Library on Unsplash

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