Violence Against People with Disabilities

My heart broke when I opened the news this morning to see a story of a young man with an intellectual disability who was allegedly kidnapped and beaten by four young people in Chicago.

While details are still coming out, police representatives believe that the man’s disability may have been a motivating factor in the incident.

It’s easy to speculate, call this a one-off incident/horrible tragedy and swipe up to read through the next thing on your news feed, but impact matters. 

It’s important to recognize that disability is often an under-looked factor in crime, especially violent crime. Data from the Department of Justice suggests that people with disabilities are significantly more likely to be victims of violent crimes than their able-bodied peers. 

These numbers increase for people with disabilities under the age of 30. The group with the highest rate per 1,000, according to the DOJ, is people with cognitive disabilities, people like the individuals Mosaic serves. (You can read the full report here.)

The general population needs information about how to uphold people with disabilities as the valued and important members of our communities they are. There are things we as a society can do to ensure that these incidents can be lessened, maybe even prevented.

Meaningful steps include:

  • Pledging to stop dehumanizing people with disabilities by using slurs like the r-word toward them and people whom you don’t like. This may seem like a small step, but words have power.
  • Advocating for strong support systems that ensure that people with disabilities can get help when they need it.
  • Asking law enforcement and justice officials to take incidents of violence against people with disabilities seriously.

These are complex issues with no easy solutions, but we can and must do better — lives depend on it.

Linda Timmons is the President and CEO of Mosaic.

Comments

Prayers for this young man and his family. This is heartbreaking.

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