CHILDLINE ADVICE: Offering support for those growing up with deafness

At Childline, we speak to children of all ages and from many different backgrounds. But this week, as we approach Disability Awareness Day, I want to talk about how we can support children who are deaf.

Monday, 26th October 2020, 12:00 am
Fortunately, Childline has some counsellors who can sign with young people over video on the Childline website, meaning they can communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that may be more comfortable for them.

Childline began as a call service for young people to reach out for support over the phone, but as time has gone on, there are more options for online chats to suit the needs and preferences of children.

And children who experience deafness are likely to face the challenges of growing up just like every other young person. As a result, it’s useful for us to understand how we can accommodate their needs when we support them.

It can be particularly challenging if children are in unsafe households. One young person told Childline:

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“My mum communicates with me through sign language, however, her partner does not. At the dinner table, no sign language is used. I rely fully on my ability to be able to sense emotion with my eyes.

“Unfortunately, my mums partner is abusive towards her and a handful of times now I’ve been sat at the dinner table, thinking everything is fine and then had to witness her partner jump up suddenly and attack my mum. It’s a shock every time, I never expect it to happen as I’m not always aware that a disagreement is happening.”

If you don’t have direct experience working with people who are deaf, you might not know how to support a child or young person with a hearing impairment, especially if they disclose abuse like this.

Fortunately, Childline has some counsellors who can sign with young people over video on the Childline website, meaning they can communicate their thoughts and feelings in a way that may be more comfortable for them.

You can also signpost them to Childline’s ‘Deaf Zone’ which has a series of signed videos on topics that we hear most about from young people, including family relationships and staying safe online.

It’s important that all children and young people have access to support. Children can sign to a counsellor through the Childline website from Monday – Friday, 8am-8pm and on Saturdays, 9am-1pm.