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How Inclusion Can Help Keep Kids With Disabilities Safe

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Children with disabilities are three times more likely to be the victims of sexual abuse than their neurotypical peers. And this risk doesn’t decrease as they get older.

Our kids are more likely to be bullied, and adults are less likely to recognize them as victims of bullying.

When children with disabilities are segregated in schools, they are often seen as second-rate citizens, “weird” outsiders who don’t belong. And when they don’t develop relationships with their peers, they become vulnerable to those who would hurt them. By segregating them, we are denying them membership in a society that looks out for its members, while forcing them into a construct that makes it easy for predators to target them.

This is why we fight for respect. It’s why we fight for inclusion in order to build communities around our children to protect them. It’s why we beg you to reconsider using the “R” word.

Our kids often don’t recognize predators posing as friends.

Our kids often can’t verbalize abuse.

Many of our kids are “silent criers,” and withdraw rather than scream or fight when hurt.

Some of our kids can’t demand fair treatment and respect. They might not be able to give eloquent speeches about discrimination. They may be unable to confront you and look you in the eye and plead their cases.

But I can. And I will. And I am.

Acceptance and diversity start with those who can’t demand it for themselves. And any cries for such ideals that don’t include people with disabilities are the hollow hawkings of a movement that promotes what is marketable rather than what is just.

I’m begging you: teach your kids to have our kids’ backs. And teach them by having our backs as we fight for them and their rightful place in this world.

Originally published: October 21, 2019
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