Last update: February 2022 | Next update: May 2023

Starting at birth, children with disabilities are exposed to multiple forms of violence that can continue throughout their lives. One of the most prevalent forms of violence experienced by all children is violent discipline.

Too often, parents’ resort to violence as a method of discipline; this may happen because they feel they lack non-violent options to effectively teach their children self-control and acceptable behaviour. For parents of children with disabilities, these challenges can be compounded. Parenting such children often requires a higher and more constant level of involvement, which can contribute to parental distress and an increased propensity to resort to violent disciplinary methods. Violent forms of discipline can also be driven by prevailing attitudes towards the disability itself. Children with disabilities can face stigma along with negative attitudes and beliefs that place them at increased risk of violence and neglect, sometimes resulting in their deaths. Factors that exacerbate the risk of exposure to violent disciplinary methods include background characteristics that are associated with children both with and without disabilities, such as poverty and parental education level.