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Thursday, 29 August 2002

National Child Protection Week 2002

The Child Protection Unit at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick is supporting National Child Protection Week 2002. This week is the major annual activity of NAPCAN (National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect) and begins on Fathers' Day each year.

This year's theme is 'A child with special needs is a child like any other'.

The main aim of National Child Protection Week 2002 is to raise awareness of the potential for abuse and neglect of children with special needs. 'Special needs' can include a permanent condition or disability or a temporary developmental or emotional problem.

Other aims are to share knowledge about early indicators of concern, to reinforce the importance of parents, carers and professionals increasing their competence and confidence in communicating directly with children with special needs.

Families of children with a disability can experience additional stress due to feeling unprepared to handle the care of a child with a disability, additional strain on their time and financial resources, and a lack of a support network.

'Child Protection is a community issue and affects us all. Children with special needs can be particularly vulnerable to abuse. This year's theme is important in raising awareness of the needs of these children and supporting families who may experience additional stress in coping with a child with special needs,' said Mr Terry Manns, Manager, Child Protection Unit, Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick.

'It is important for parents and/or carers to seek help when they are having difficulty in coping'

NAPCAN's advice about communicating with and protecting children with special needs includes:

All children, including those with special needs, communicate their feelings through non-verbal behaviour such as eye contact, facial expression, gesture, touch, movement, sounds and play - be observant of these communications and of any change in behaviour.

Many children with special needs find it difficult to communicate about feelings using words. Help them to find different ways of communicating through using drawing, mime, photos and play.

If a child's speech or language is difficult to understand, be patient. Don't pretend that you have understood - ask for it to be repeated and check back to see if you have understood.

Remember that communication is a 'two-way street'. It is our responsibility as adults to really listen and to encourage a child to communicate.

The time spent in understanding and sorting out the worries of children with special needs is one way of showing that we really do care.

Advice for children

Children with special needs have the same kinds of feelings as you
Treat others as you would like to be treated yourself
If you think a child with special needs is upset or worried tell a grown up. You might be the only one who has noticed.

For Further Information Contact:

Catharina Boer, Public Affairs Manager Tel: 9382 3571 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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