Speak out, stay safe: including children with special educational needs and disabilities in an evaluation of an abuse prevention programme

Berni Kelly*, Nicola Farrelly, Farwa Batool, Zain Kurdi, Nicky Stanley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

This paper reports on the evaluation of an integrated violence and abuse prevention programme for children aged 5–11, focusing on children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The Speak Out Stay Safe (SOSS) programme was delivered in mainstream primary schools across the UK. A small-scale study of children with SEND nested within the larger evaluation captured their understandings of abuse and harm and readiness to seek help. A specially adapted survey was completed by 76 children with SEND (aged 6–7 and 9–10) at baseline (31 intervention; 45 comparison schools), 12 in intervention schools post-programme and 37 (four intervention; 33 comparison schools) six months post-baseline. Qualitative data was captured through 16 teacher interviews. Whilst this nested study was compromised by the COVID-19 pandemic, it provides important evidence that with appropriate adaptations, a survey approach to investigating the learning of children with SEND can be effective. Findings indicate that awareness of abuse and help seeking strategies may improve over time, whilst interview data suggests that adapting the programme to be inclusive of those children may have a better effect. However, a much larger sample of children with SEND is required to confidently measure the effects of such programmes for this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2816
Number of pages12
JournalChild Abuse Review
Volume32
Issue number5
Early online date28 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2023

Keywords

  • abuse, children, prevention, special educational needs disabilities

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