Sexual Abuse of Children With Disabilities: Key Lessons and Future Directions Based on a Scoping Review

Bella Klebanov, Gal Friedman-Hauser, Efrat Lusky-Weisrose, Carmit Katz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


In recent years there has been a growing public and professional interest in situations of risk, abuse, and exploitation of children with disabilities (CWDs). Despite the increasing awareness of CWDs experiencing child sexual abuse (CSA) at high rates, research in this area is still in its infancy. The current study seeks to identify, map, and thoroughly analyze the existing knowledge to better inform future research, policy, and practice. A scoping review was conducted using Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines, identifying 35 articles addressing CSA among CWDs based on self-report surveys, official report data, and qualitative interviews. The findings addressed the phenomenon’s epidemiology, disclosure, identification patterns, and consequences. Studies showed that CWDs experience CSA two to four times more often than children without disabilities and that they suffer longer and harsher abuse due to factors that complicate the identification of CSA of CWDs. This review highlights the diverse methodologies, producing a high variance in phenomenon rates, as well as unique methodological strategies for addressing challenges in CSA and disability research. Future research should focus on qualitative-retrospective studies of the perceptions of survivors and significant others in their lives (e.g., parents). Moreover, an intersectionality paradigm must be adopted in future studies to address the diverse contexts that construct the phenomenon (including sociocultural contexts). There is also a need to develop integrative interventions to allow higher accessibility of services, adaptive identification mechanisms, and more effective collaboration between professionals and CWDs.

Original languageEnglish
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • child sexual abuse
  • children with disability
  • disability
  • scoping review


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