My Name is Sarah

MY NAME IS SARAH. I am a quilt designer and the sewcial director of Sarah's Sewcial Lounge. I also have a business called Down Right Charming. I sell my quilts mostly on etsy and I make pillowcases to donate to patients in the hospital in memory of my friend Kristen Kirton. I am a young adult living with Down syndrome. I hope you enjoy reading about my life journey.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Very Disturbing News

This article came across my computer at work on a news feed today. I sat in stunned silence for several moments, really unable to comprehend what I was reading. I have been trying to process this all afternoon and have decided to post it, only for the purpose of educating. Although I want to pretend this cannot happen, I recognize I must be diligent in continuing to work with Sarah on this issue.

Oberlin schools sued over rape of 13-year-old with disabilities

Posted by Michael Sangiacomo/Plain Dealer Reporter January 08, 2009 12:11PM
Categories: Breaking News, Crime, Real Time News

ELYRIA — An Oberlin couple has filed suit accusing the Oberlin School District of failing to protect their 13-year-old mentally disabled daughter from being sexually assaulted by classmates at Prospect Elementary School.

In a lawsuit filed Wednesday in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, the parents accuse the school district of negligence and violating the federal laws designed to protect disabled children.

Arlene Craft, attorney for the girl's family, said in the lawsuit that two students in the girl's special-needs class began having sexual relations with the girl when she was 12.

The girl has Down syndrome.

Oberlin police said they investigated the allegations and turned their findings over to county juvenile court authorities.

Craft said teachers or school officials should have noticed when the girl was being taken behind the bleachers and assaulted in May 2007.

The girl's parents realized there was a problem when their daughter began talking about her boyfriends. The lawsuit said the boys did not force the girl to have sexual relations, but that because of her disability, she is unable to give consent.

The lawsuit says the school district should have been aware of the "abusive tendencies" of the two boys when it placed them in the class with mentally disabled children.

The lawsuit seeks damages in excess of $25,000.

Oberlin schools Superintendent Geoffrey Andrews declined to comment, noting that he has not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit.

Here is the link to the article. WARNING: some of the comments are equally disturbing.

The following statement is taken directly from the National Down Syndrome Society Website:

How can a person with Down syndrome be protected against sexual abuse?

It is highly recommended that age-appropriate education in protective behaviors begin in childhood and be reinforced throughout the life of the person with Down syndrome. Individuals with Down syndrome must be taught the boundaries of normal physical interactions in the social sphere, as well as the self-assertion skills to enlist help if necessary. Practicing assertive behaviors, designating trusted individuals in settings that are frequented with whom to discuss or report questionable activities are important aspects of abuse prevention training.


Tracey said...

This is horrible!!! We all need to educate our kids on things like this. I hope this family gets justice (if you can call it that),

sheree said...

this is just downright horrible and really scares me. Just a reminder of how proactive we need to be about this issue when talking to our children. Discusting.

SunflowerMom said...

that is extremely upsaetting! :(

Anonymous said...

I've always had it in my mind that Olivia will be escorted by an adult at all times while at school. It's in her IEP...for this very reason. This is also why I don't think I'll let her work anywhere where I don't know every single person very well. Too scary. I'm so sad for this girl and her family. What a world we live in.

Cathy said...

Unfortunately, I have thought of this. What a horrible place the world can be. I will do everything in my power to protect my daughter!

JRS said...

It is horrible. It's also something I've noticed that our community tends to not talk much about. Maybe it's just too scary. In October, for DS Awareness I posted a few times about this because we need to be educated and do as much prevention work as we can. If you're interested, in my October blogs, the label for those posts is DVAM. Here's just a little of what I've found. ---Jen
Studies estimate that 80% of women with disabilities have been sexually assaulted.
One study showed that 47% of sexually abused women with disabilities reported assaults on more than ten occasions.
Children with disabilities are more than twice as likely as children without disabilities to be physically abused, and almost twice as likely to be sexually abused.
Studies estimate that between 70% and 85% of cases of abuse against adults with disabilities go unreported.
One study found that only 5% of reported crimes against people with disabilities were prosecuted, compared to 70% for serious crimes committed against people with no disabilities.
Taken from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Anonymous said...

Sickening! I didn't read the article yet...don't know if I can handle it. Funny enough, I have been going over a packet of information given to us by a pediatrician who heads a Down Syndrome Clinic at our local children's hospital. In the packet, is a listing of books to read with children about being safe in our society. This post just makes me realize how very important it is for our family to be diligent with this subject.

datri said...

Scary stuff and something no one wants to talk about.

Lisa said...

This feels like a knife in my heart. As soon as I read the sentence "The girl has Down syndrome," I started crying. I'm speechless.