This recent research project investigated the safety of students with cognitive disability in and around school.
Evidence shows that children and young people with cognitive disability experience violence, abuse, and neglect at rates considerably higher than their peers. Despite this, little is known about the perspectives of students with cognitive disability on what helps and hinders them in feeling and being safe at school.
Qualitative research focused on gathering the perspectives of 27 students and families, and other key supporters such as teachers, disability, and child protection workers about personal safety and harm in and around school, together with their views on how harm might be avoided or better responded to.
A significant discord emerged between students’ experiences of harm, the responses provided by education providers, and the systemic structures they found available to support resolution of abuse. The rights of students with cognitive disability to be safe at school were in many cases not upheld.
Strengthening the implementation of the legal and human rights of students with cognitive disability in school settings is reliant in large part on the efforts and collaboration of multiple stakeholders, requiring sustained commitment to change at personal, school and systemic levels.