Monday, November 28, 2011

An Alarming Statistic

Tammy, at Praying for Parker, posted some very startling and unsettling statistics on her blog last week.  I've heard similar stats before, but have probably been in denial ever since. 

But denial won't make the problem disappear.

((deep breath))  Okay, here goes:  estimates show that  90% of females and 50% of males with intellectual disabilities will be sexually abused


Now, if I can get my heart to stop pounding and my brain to stop spinning long enough to continue, I'll give you some excellent ways to build awareness and help prevent this awful, awful thing from happening to your child. 

Tammy found the following list posted in a group she's a part of.  I don't know who the author is, but I send them a heartfelt thank you for posting this.  It's difficult to read, but so, so necessary.  Please take the time to educate your spouses and your children about this, and don't let your child become a statistic.

1. Start early. Introduce correct terms for body parts. This way a they can report clearly if someone engages in sexual misbehavior.

2. Introduce body privacy. NO ONE is allowed to tickle or play around with the private parts of your body. To counter any attempts at or*l s*x include the mouth as a private body part. NO ONE is allowed to put anything part of their body into your mouth.

3. Make it clear that if someone breaks the rules about body privacy, YOU (the parent) need to know about it.

4. Teach your child to stand back and hold out their arms and say – in a BIG LOUD – voice and say, “NO! STOP THAT!” “IT’S NOT ALLOWED!” Practice saying NO! assertively.

5. Practice distinguishing secrets to keep and secrets that must be told. Children and adults with intellectual disabilities often think they can tell good secrets but have to keep bad secrets cause telling a bad secret might make someone feel bad.

6. As sex abuse is about power, work to empower your child with independence in dressing and toileting.

7. Develop and practice problem solving skills. Role play different situations and how your child should react in them.

8. Bear in mind that if your child lacks physical affection, approval and attention, they become more vulnerable to predators.

9. Develop social skills. Personal space. Eye to eye contact. Make sure your child knows their phone number and address.

10. Often children with special have already developed a passivity to adults, especially to caregivers and other professionals. Teach your child it is okay to stand up for themselves.

11. With non-verbal children consult a speech therapist for communication symbols for sexuality.

Samantha is a very affectionate child, which is a really wonderful thing.  BUT...while she has gotten better about it, she does still like to hug random people.  It's so hard, as a parent, to know how to teach your child to distinguish between the people it's okay to hug, and the ones it isn't okay to hug.  Or to tell I love you.  We really have to work more on teaching her boundaries.  And, piggybacking on yesterday's post, teaching her Stranger Danger and how to fear and stand up for herself in certain situations.

Please re-post this, and share it with your special needs community.  Armed with this information we can help to reduce the number of incidents, and protect our kids.


Alicia said...

i saw this discussion the other day on a down syndrome list, i really dont like to think about this, but as you said is better to teach our kids before is too late.

i remember when Elias was just a baby, in the special ed school where he had his EI services, we had a talk with the psicologist who also worked at a goverment area where she treated cases of kids who were abused, and she told us many abuses are from people kids know, because they try to get their trust first and become friends, or even someone from the family, so i try really to be really carefull about 'friends'

Elias doesnt like to no one to touch him, really, he likes to say hello but hugging he doesnt hug much. and im really working that he doesnt say hello, he know says good morning, but still, just being careful. and he doesnt even let me to help him when he takes showers, he has been doing it alone since he is 3 and since then.

we know of an adult (man) with DS who was abused by a neighboard who was just divorced. sigh. and a another man also with DS was just killed a month ago because also a neighboard tried to abuse him but he defended himself and the neighboard ended killing him. sigh.

Anna said...

thank you Becca. I needed to read this because we are having a hard time with everything being "NOOO!!" finding balance. Also hugging- balance between indiscriminate affection (orphanage type behaviors) and hugging someone because they are a friend/family and would like a hug and she would rather not hug them. So hard. Is this information available somewhere in printable format? Something I will research.

Rochelle said...

Great post, I saw this on Tammy's blog and gasped too. We taught Aidan stuff like this when he was little so will do the same for the girls. Thanks.

Jenny said...

Not a topic I like thinking about either..In fact, just reading this post makes me cry. This has been one of my greatest fears for all my children, but more so for Russell because I feel he may be more of a target, more vulnerable.

But you are right pushing it out of our minds does not change the statistics and it doesn't protect our children. We need to be on top of this BEFORE something happens, not after.

Becca, this was an excellent post, so very helpful. You wrote some points in here I had not thought of. Thank you for sharing. I will be sharing this with my friends and family :)

Meriah said...

Amen, sister. I am only too aware of the correlation between disability and sexual abuse. We can't talk about this enough. It's beyond vile and it's happening.

The other thing: people need to be aware of is the profile of a pedophile. We need to keep that awareness UP - everyone expects the pedophile to be the creepy dude hiding behind a tree by the playground and he's almost always NOT; he's the charming guy that everyone LOVES that teaches your kids. That is your minister, your kids' friend, etc. If you are very aware of what to look for, you can get a sense of who is "off" - and what to do; how to steer your kids and others away.

tekeal said...

oh, deep breath... I echo all the "thank you"s. I've been working on this stuff too, but now will continue with extra vigor. SO hard to read .

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

This is a huge fear of mine...something we talk about with Max and will do with Maddie...but it never seems like enough! Thanks for this! Great info for me n Chad to discuss...smiles

Anna Theurer said...

Very informative (and scary!) post. I had no idea the stats were so high. When my aunt (who also has Ds) was growing up, the issues were not necessarily strangers or teachers, but rather her housemates who also had intellectual disabilities. While these are all things I never want to think about, you are right that we do need to face the facts and prepare our children to the best of our abilities.

Lisa Julia Photography said...

Thanks for posting this very valuable never occurred to me to include talking about the mouth as being part of this. Thanks again for this post xo

Melissa said...

Scary statistics, but something that needs to be addressed. There was a conference recently here on sexuality in general. Some was just on appropriate behavior, but abuse was addressed as well. I wasn't able to go, but hopes the speaker comes back.