Characteristic Effects & Strategies

 

The concept of “rights” is generally unknown to children with developmental disabilities

 

  • Often do not make their own decisions. Persons in charge of them are in total control.
  •  First responder may need to say “ ___ (the person who is in charge of you) wants me to talk with you.”

 

Taught to be obedient and dependent Reluctant to express negative feelings or a desire for change

 

  • You can ask if they would like it if “x” stopped happening.

 

Refusal is not usually acceptable

 

  • Unlikely to refuse to do anything you ask even if child should. Will not refuse the suspect either.

 

The Law is seldom understood


  • “Against the Law” or “illegal” may not be fully understood, but is more readily understood than “within the Law,” since “the law” is an abstract concept.

 

  • Child may think that law enforcement first responder is punishing them for reporting an assault.
  • Child may think that the presence of the first responder is a signal that they are in trouble.
  • Children are often told by their abuser that law enforcement will take them away and break up the family if they tell about the abuse.

 

  • Tell the child that they are not in trouble and will not get in trouble by telling you what has happened to them.
  • Tell the child that your job is to make sure that children are safe in their homes/schools.

 

Body Integrity


  • If child requires daily care, child is used to being touched.
  • May be unaware that sexual contact is unusual when done by a care giver.
  • They do know that “it feels wrong,” but are also powerless to make it stop.

 

Abuse or Assault

  • Concept is unknown.
  • Child can describe what hurts or made them feel bad.

 

Baladerian, N.J., Heisler, C., & Hertica, M. (n.d.) Child abuse victims with disabilities: A curriculum for law enforcement first responders and child protective services frontline workers-participant manual. California: Child abuse and neglect disability outreach program of arc riverside. Retrieved from  http://www.disabilityandabuse.org/resources/Participant.pdf