Protecting Children with Disabilities

Children who have delays or limitations–physical, intellectual, social, communication–are at increased risk for sexual abuse and exploitation. 

 Reasons for this include:

  • Limited ability to recognize and resist inappropriate touch or other sexual activity

  • Social isolation and limited opportunities to express and explore their sexuality in age-appropriate ways with peers

  • Increased dependence on the internet for social interaction, putting them at higher risk for online exploitation and pornography addiction

  • Mismatch between physical age and social or intellectual maturity, forcing a child to navigate the challenges of puberty with the mind and social skills typical of a much younger child

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This can be an overwhelming topic for parents, and it is too important to delay or ignore – there is help.

 

  • Make sure your child is included in your school’s body safety and sexuality education program. If your child receives accommodations for education, they need to be applied here as well.

  • Be vigilant in talking to other children in your family about touch and sexual boundaries, specifically including interactions with siblings who are younger or more vulnerable in any way

  • Tailor body safety conversations to your child’s unique needs. For example, children with autism may need very specific and clear directions about different types of touch in different settings; children who have frequent physical contact from medical providers or personal care assistants will need conversations about privacy and touch in those circumstances

  • Children and teens with behavioral and social challenges may need extra boundaries and specific guidance on how they treat others–including siblings, younger children, and peers

  • Take advantage of resources which are available to help you and your child navigate puberty and grow into a lifetime of healthy sexuality