Original Research

Non-Disclosure of abuse in children and young adults with disabilities: Reasons and mitigation strategies Northwest Region of Cameroon

Glory T. Tsangue, Jacque Chirac Awa, Josephine Nsono, Charlotte W. Ayima, Pius M. Tih
African Journal of Disability | Vol 11 | a1025 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ajod.v11i0.1025 | © 2022 Glory T. Tsangue, Jacque Chirac Awa, Josephine Nsono, Charlotte W. Ayima, Pius M. Tih | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 February 2022 | Published: 14 December 2022

About the author(s)

Glory T. Tsangue, Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) Program, Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Yaounde, Cameroon
Jacque Chirac Awa, Services for Persons with Disability, Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Bamenda, Cameroon
Josephine Nsono, Gender and Child Protection Services, Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Bamenda, Cameroon
Charlotte W. Ayima, Department of Research/Evaluation, Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Mutengene-Buea, Cameroon
Pius M. Tih, Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services, Bamenda, Cameroon


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Abstract

Background: Child abuse is a serious public health issue in low- and middle-income countries, and children with disabilities are at greater risk of abuse. Despite this heightened risk, the abuse of children with disabilities often goes undetected and under-reported, leading to the continuity of such abuse by their abusers.

Objectives: This study was aimed at identifying the reasons for non-disclosure of abuse and possible mitigating strategies to curb this dilemma in children and young adults with disabilities (CWD).

Methods: A population-based record-linkage qualitative study was conducted among CWD (both at home and in institutions) in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. Twelve key informant interviews and eight focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted among key staff from child protection offices for child abuse, parents and teachers in schools. Fifty in-depth interviews were also conducted among children with disabilities. Reasons for nondisclosure and proposed mitigating approaches from audio tapes were transcribed verbatim, thematic analysis performed and findings reported.

Results: A lack of knowledge on where to disclose, fear of stigma, long and expensive procedures, a lack of confidence in the justice system, threats from abusers, protection of family unity and friendship ties were linked with nondisclosures. The most common mitigating strategies postulated were sensitisation, capacity building on parenting and the creation of child protection committees.

Conclusion: From this study, nondisclosure of abuse is common in CWD, and thus there is a need for urgent attention to curb the situation for safer and more child-friendly environments through sensitisation, parental support and putting in place strategic child protection committees.

Contribution: This article is based on the experience of all authors with interest in the field of disability. This article contributes to the pull of knowledge by providing context specific reasons for non-disclosure of abuse as well as mitigation strategies.


Keywords

children with disabilities; nondisclosure; reasons; mitigation; Northwest Region; Cameroon

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