The EU must protect the rights of children with disabilities

28 July 2020

The EU strategy on children rights for 2021-2024 will provide the framework for EU action to better promote and protect children’s rights, contain a set of measures for the EU to implement and include recommendations for action by other EU institutions, EU countries and stakeholders. They will address among others:

  • The rights of the most vulnerable children
  • Children’s rights in the digital age
  • The prevention of and fight against violence
  • The promotion of child-friendly justice

Children with disabilities in Europe

There are around 68 million children below the age of 15 in the EU (Eurostat, 2020) but there is no data on how many of them have disabilities. Despite the disproportionate risk they face, children with disabilities are given little to no consideration in national or European child rights legislation.

According to Eurostat, about 5% of EU families with children had a child or children with disabilities (ilc_hch13, 2017) and 9.4% of girls and young women and 7.5% of boys and young men (ages 16-24) had a disability (EU-SILC, 2017).

In most EU countries, children with disabilities are institutionalised, segregated in special schools and are victims of violence and abuse, in and outside their family setting.

Our demands

We call the European Commission to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)* through the Strategy for Children Rights 2021-2024 by

  • Addressing child poverty and the specific difficulties faced by families with children with disabilities
  • Consulting with children with disabilities and organisations of persons with disabilities in the preparation, design, implementation and monitoring of the strategy
  • Collecting data on children with disabilities, including those living in institutions; where general data is collected, it should be disaggregated by disability, gender and age
  • Developing support services for children with disabilities and their families in local communities, including early assessment, health care, (re-)habilitation and other specific support measures, and foster de-institutionalisation so children with disabilities can live in the community
  • Guaranteeing access to inclusive education and recreational opportunities to all children with disabilities in the EU, from pre-primary education onwards, including to the European schools.
  • Mainstreaming focus on intersectional discrimination and specific issues faced by children with disabilities in all areas addressed by EU strategies, including external policies
  • Protecting children against violence by addressing the specific needs and issues of children with disabilities, including abuse in institutions and in the family, and forced sterilisation and contraception of female/youth with disabilities

Read our input to the roadmap on the strategy.


*Articles on children with disabilities in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

  • 6: Ensure the full enjoyment by children with disabilities of all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal basis with other children
  • 15: Including freedom from violence
  • 16: Living in the community and access to inclusive education
  • 16.3: Children with disabilities also have the right to express their views on all matters affecting them

What can you do?

  • Participate in the next public consultation on the strategy that will take place in the fall (to be announced on this page) – it will be available in all languages of the European Union
  • Check the policies of your country on children rights and how its protect the rights of children with disabilities
  • Contact EDF to tell us your recommendations so we can amplify them

For any questions or comments you can contact Marine Uldry, EDF Human Rights Officer: marine.uldry@edf-feph.org.


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