How DeafKidz work towards helping abused children that can’t talk about what happened

For many D/deaf and hard of hearing children of the world serious abuse is a part of everyday life. The organization DeafKidz International works to help the affected children to a better life and fight against the tragic normalization of the abuse.

Children who suffer from hearing loss and D/deafness form a group that is difficult to reach. In many cases, children have not been diagnosed with deafness. Instead, they run the risk of being exploited and subjected to physical, sexual and emotional abuse by family and the environment, as they often live in a world where knowledge deficits and negative attitudes legitimize violations and violence.

– One in four girls is sexually abused. Global child protection laws have failed children with hearing loss and D/deafness.

Steve Crump

Steve Crump, founder of DeafKidz International, lost his hearing in his teens and has over time learned sign language. During the Bosnian War, he served on the board of the organization War Child UK and has worked for the International Red Cross Committee. When he became aware of how D/deaf children were subjected to brutal abuse in Uganda, where militias, among other things, raped them for pleasure, he decided to found DeafKidz to help the vulnerable children.

– It is about developing processes, laws and guidelines that protect vulnerable children. Our method is designed to prevent injury by offering safe and effective help. A large part of the problem lies in the fact that the abuses are regarded as something normal, while at the same time there are often no functioning regulations, says Steve.

Diagnosis and support

Steve highlights four main tracks for DeafKidz’s work. It is partly about trying to identify D/deaf children early and then going in with help and support. On the one hand, the organization works with digital toolkits for both children and professional professionals, combined with local and international guides for children.

– Our local health workers are trained in being able to discern D/deaf children and adolescents in screening surveys. They use mobile-based audiograms and then have an audiologist assess whether there is D/deafness, says Steve.

If a child is diagnosed with D/deafness, DeafKidz offers clinical support in the form of sign language learning, speech and language therapy, hearing aids, parental support and psychological care. The organization also helps hearing-impaired children gain access to quality education for the D/deaf. With the digital children’s toolkits, children learn to understand what an abuse is. They learn safety behaviors and to say no.

– We use digital gaming platforms where children can build their own characters, as a form of role models. Our assistance is to strengthen without being intimidating. We have also developed digital aids for professionals. There, the adults can practice their ability to communicate with the children, take part in general guidelines and test their knowledge. Everything to meet our standards.

Collaboration and future goals

Today, DeafKidz collaborates with nWise as a technical partner. nWise is also an investor in the development of the children’s toolkit, where through a game they can learn what is a healthy behavior and reduce the risk that they will be exploited. DeafKidz also works with the organization Childline International, which has contact with about 20 million children annually.

– We train their staff so that they both become more aware of D/deaf children and better at communicating with them.

DeafKidz is also currently preparing for a needs assessment exercise in Jordan funded by the Sir Bobby Charlton Foundation; are continuing to work with Slum Soccer in India, empowering D/deaf children to stay safe through street soccer and are continuing to deliver their Gender Based Violence programme in Jamaica in partnership with Laureus Sport for Good.

Picture from Slum Soccer in India

The future goal of DeafKidz is to scale up the business and have contact with 2.5 million children by 2025.

– We want to create tactical cooperation. Change attitudes, systems and procedures. Deafness is an emergency for public health. It is the third most common medical condition in the world, while it is the condition that receives the least resources. We want to strengthen D/deaf children so that they are safe from abuse – and we do not intend to leave any child behind us on the way to a better world.

How DeafKidz works:

  • Empowerment. DeafKidz wants to give D/deaf and hearing-impaired children the courage to say no when exposed to violations and abuse. The ability is trained through storybook reading and sports activities, such as dancing or similar exercises.
  • Preventive work. DeafKidz takes steps to stop abuse. An important part of the work consists of fostering loving relationships between parents and children. The goal is for the environment’s reactions to D/deafness to be appropriate and reasonable.
  • Precautions. Children at risk are supported by DeafKidz. In addition, the organization works to strengthen the infrastructure, social welfare and clinical and legal conditions in the children’s environment. The efforts will in the end give deaf and hearing-impaired children better safety nets.
  • Partnership. DeafKidz collaborates with local organizations and police authorities in the areas where they operate. In this way, the help workers gain an understanding of the prevailing practice in each region, while at the same time the relief efforts can be shaped according to the unique needs of each place. The collaboration also creates the conditions for responsibility and transparency.

To learn more about DeafKidz International, click here and visit their web page.