Policy Advocacy Brief
Issue Statement/Executive Summary
Individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) have some of the highest rates of sexual violence of any group—at least 7 times the rate for people without disabilities. (6) Attempts to alleviate this problem have been unsuccessful and based on the Medical Model of Disability, which views people with I/DD as inherently vulnerable and in need only of protection. Viewing people with I/DD as inherently vulnerable further stigmatizes them and increases dependency on others, instead of fostering capabilities and independence. Minnesota needs to move beyond taking a protective “recognize, report, and respond” approach, to taking a comprehensive approach to sexual violence prevention. We must invest in an array of Primary Prevention and Risk Reduction strategies to address the serious and pervasive problem of sexual violence perpetrated against children, adolescents, and adults with I/DD. Primary prevention and risk reduction need to start early with children and their caregivers in the places where they live, learn, and play to teach skills for self-advocacy, healthy relationships, distinguishing harmful caregiving from respectful caregiving, where to report crimes, and where to get help. We need to provide education and support self-determination through self-advocacy of people with I/DD as equal partners in our comprehensive approach. (2) We need to create change in cultural attitudes, norms, and policies to promote opportunity, freedom to make meaningful choice, inclusion, self-determination, and increased quality of life for all people with I/DD. Every person has a right to safety and a right to live their life free of sexual violence. At the forefront of Minnesota’s comprehensive approach must be the voices of people with I/DD.
Crowell, K., Elwer, J., Makori, B., & Schultz, L. (2019). Moving beyond a protective approach to stopping sexual violence of people with intellectual and developmental disabilites. MSW Program Policy Briefs, Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/msw-student-policy-advocacy-briefs/22