I was thrilled to be invited to share the work of Worth The Conversation and my passion for keeping kids safe with my friends at The Lucky Few Podcast. These ladies are “shifting the narrative by shouting the worth of people with Down syndrome” and truly are world changers. I’m so grateful they reached out to discuss this difficult topic!
“This is a complicated issue, but I truly believe that the Down Syndrome community is powerful enough to tackle this,” Lindsey Strickland on sexual abuse against children with Down Syndrome. We are so grateful to have our wise friend, Lindsey here to engage in this important conversation and empower us all to make a change. We know sexual abuse is tough to talk about, but our kids are #WorthTheConversation. Thankfully, today’s guest is well-versed in this conversation. Lindsey has spent many years working with Child Protective Services as a case manager for at-risk families, and she also grew up with foster siblings who had experienced abuse. After working as a child advocate in a sexual assault clinic, she began to educate her community about the realities of child sexual abuse. Her extensive background, heart for outreach, and 6 year-old-son with Down Syndrome all lead her to create Worth The Conversation.
Lindsey’s online platform serves to empower parents to protect their children with different abilities. She acknowledges the many risk factors for our kids and encourages families to combat those dangers with fierce advocacy and clear communication. Remember listeners, you have the right to be present during your child’s therapies, the right to drop in unannounced, and the right to set expectations and boundaries with your child’s doctors, teachers, aides, baby sitters, care givers, and more. Let’s shout their worth and protect our kiddos, it’s definitely #WorthTheConversation.
Research consistently shows at least 1 in 10children will experience some type of sexual abuse by the time they turn 18. Children with developmental disabilities are three times more likely to be victimized. It’s so easy to blame the problem of child sexual assault on corrupt culture, or assume it only happens to “other people.” But sexual abuse knows no boundaries. It’s present in all communities, socioeconomic classes and cultures. Abuse is happening in all the places where our children should be safe: homes, churches and schools. Children are abused most often by people the child knows and trusts. Many of you reading this are survivors of childhood sexual assault. I hope these statistics remind you that you are not alone and you are not to blame for what was done to you. If you have not personally experienced abuse, the statistics prove you most definitely know and love a survivor of abuse.
I’m well aware that people are not excited to read about the victimization of children, but here’s the thing: parents already know and worry about sexual abuse, especially those of us with a child with developmental disabilities. So instead of living with constant anxiety and a sense of helplessness, let’s talk about the problem so we can recognize, respond, and ultimately prevent it from happening in the first place. Preventing sexual abuse of children requires adopting an overall awareness and mindset; learning about who abuses and how they do so is crucial in preventing abuse.
Research shows at least 90% of perpetrators are someone the child and family already know and trust.
Today’s post is about teaching your child to say “no.” I know what you’re probably thinking: nailed that one! We certainly have in our home. Despite Ben’s limited verbal ability, he’s able to shut me down all day long. Even if he really wants something, the reply to my request is usually a resounding “NO.” But here’s the thing: being able to say no is a very important skill, especially when it comes to body boundaries. Continue reading Teaching Body Boundaries: It’s ok to say NO
In order to address the specifics of preventing sexual abuse in children with Down syndrome, we first have to understand what is referred to as primary prevention in the field of sexual violence prevention. Primary prevention aims to change the deeply rooted cultural attitudes that lead to inequalities which put certain populations at an increased risk of sexual abuse. Those of us parenting a child with Down syndrome are already doing the daily work to uproot prejudice against our children. Continue reading Primary Prevention and Why It Matters
Once upon a time, I had a job that gave me a paycheck. I worked as the child advocate at a crisis center where I provided education and support for children and families impacted by sexual abuse. I absolutely loved everything about it: giving awareness talks in the community, co facilitating equine therapy summer camps, and even helping teens prepare to testify against their abuser in court. It was intense meaningful work that would often shut down the polite, “What do you do?” party conversation in two seconds flat. Despite my Debbie Downer vibe at social gatherings, every now and then someone would find out what I did for a living and summon the courage to share their story with me. It was, and is, always a privilege to be invited to hear someone’s story of surviving trauma.