There are significant gaps in our knowledge of disabled children and child protection. We do not know how many disabled children are known to child protection services or how many disabled children experience abuse and much of the data that is available relates to countries outside the UK.
This page summarises available statistics on children with disabilities collated from government, official and research publications.
Source: Department for Work and Pensions (2013) Family resources survey: United Kingdom 2011/12 (PDF). London: Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). p 61
The DWP does not define everyone under the age of 18 as a child. The DWP defines a child as an individual aged under 16, or aged from 16 to 19 years old and: not married nor in a Civil Partnership nor living with a partner; and living with parents/a responsible adult; and in full-time non-advanced education or in unwaged government training.
The definition of "in need" includes the need for any service, not only those in need of protection from abuse.
Sources: Department for Education (2013) Table B2 in Main tables: characteristics of children in need in England, 2012-13 (Excel). London: Department for Education.
Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government (2013) Children in need by local authority and disability. Cardiff: Welsh Government
Since 2008/09, the Scottish Government, unlike other jurisdictions in the UK, has required local authorities to return data on the disability status of registered children, which is published in the annual Child Protection Survey.
Source: Scottish Government (2013) Table 4.2 in Children's social work statistics 2011-12: additional tables. (Excel) Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
England and Wales collect data on the category of need of looked after children, including the child's disability or illness.
These figures include disabled children who live away from home to go to residential schools.
Sources: Glenndenning, J (2013) Children Looked After by Local Authorities in England (including adoption and care leavers) - year ending 31 March 2013. (PDF) London: Department for Education (DfE)
Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government (2013) Children in need by local authority and category of need. Cardiff: Welsh Government
Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales collect data on whether looked after children have a disability, regardless of whether it is the category of need under which they are looked after.
Department of Health, Social Services & Public Safety (2013) Table 15a in Children in care in Northern Ireland 2011/12 (Excel). Belfast: DHSSPSNI
Scottish Government (2013) Table 1.3 in Children's social work statistics 2011-12: additional tables. (Excel) Edinburgh: Scottish Government.
Knowledge and Analytical Services, Welsh Government (2013) Children in need at 31 March by looked after status, category of need and disability, including unborn children. Cardiff: Welsh Government
Source: Brandon, M et al. (2012) New learning from serious case reviews: a two year report for 2009-2011 (PDF). London: Department for Education (DFE).
This is based on research by Sullivan and Knutson (2000) who found that:
Source: Sullivan, P. M. and Knutson, J. F. (2000) Maltreatment and disabilities: a population-based epidemiological study in Child Abuse and Neglect 24(10), October 2000: 1257-1273. Based on the records of over 40,000 children in an American city.
Source: Jones, L. et al (2012) Prevalence and risk of violence against children with disabilities: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. in Lancet 380 (9845), 12 July 2012: 899-907
Source: Mencap (2007) Bullying wrecks lives: the experiences of children and young people with a learning disability (PDF). London: Mencap. Based on a survey of 500 children and young people aged eight to 19 years in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Source: Hershkowitz, I., Lamb, M. E. and Horowitz, D.(2007) Victimization of children with disabilities in American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 77(4), October 2007: 629-635
How to find, understand and use statistics about child abuse
NSPCC, 2011. A brief introduction to child abuse statistics.
Comparing child abuse statistics over time and between countries
Explains the issues around looking for trends in statistics over time, within the UK and internationally.