People with intellectual and developmental disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate SEVEN TIMES higher than those without disabilities. There are several (largely preventable) reasons for these increased risks. Typically, there is limited access or no access to health education in the isolated special education classrooms that many people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) find themselves in. Even in inclusive classrooms, students with disabilities often end up missing “elective” class time (like health class) for occupational therapy or other specialized services they may need.
In public schools, sexual health education standards vary widely depending on the state you live in. Regardless of ability, many people simply do not receive the sexual health education they need in school. Through social immersion, however, most people reach adulthood having gleaned the important facts. People with IDD do not have that same social immersion. Peers may see them as being “different” and as a result, friendships are difficult and often unbalanced for people with IDD. Most grow up feeling extremely isolated from their peers.
As educators, it is our duty to keep the conversation going and do everything we can to help keep students safe.
The only way to face this problem is head on, and Oak Hill’s focus is on educating and empowering as many people as possible, providing the skills and tools they need to protect themselves and take charge of their bodies.
Please help us raise awareness! Use the #SevenTimes hashtag in social media posts and talk about this important issue. We are all responsible for protecting the safety and rights of our students.
Students have a right to know about their bodies and how to have healthy relationships.
Oak Hill’s Center for Relationship & Sexuality Education offers a curriculum for teens and a seven-workbook series for adults that that addresses the root causes of widespread sexual abuse and other related issues experienced by the IDD community. In published clinical studies, our evidence-based materials have been shown to effectively increase vital knowledge among this population.
Explore our site to learn more about what we are doing here at Oak Hill to move the needle on this epidemic!