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.
Whether through intentional, organized advocacy or simply by loving our children and encouraging others to do the same, we are laying the foundation for cultural change. While social media certainly has its flaws, it has made it possible to share the worth of our kids with the masses. I know my Instagram feed is way better filled with everything Down syndrome! My friends over at Ruby’s Rainbow, The Lucky Few and Dear Mom (just to name a few awesome advocates!) are helping change hearts and minds by shouting the value and worth of people with Down syndrome. National organizations provide education and promote the funding of research to make the lives of people with Down syndrome better. Local Down syndrome associations are working hard in communities all over the country to make sure our children are seen and supported. This is primary prevention.
I absolutely intend to give you some practical advice and prevention strategies. I actually thrive in the practical details more so than in lofty dreams. I love nothing more than to call out the tactics of perpetrators and empower parents to protect their kids. But I think it’s important to begin with the understanding that shifting cultural norms is the most important form of long term prevention and is already happening thanks to the dedication of parents, professionals and self-advocates!