Violence against people with various disabilities happens in many ways.
A study done by the U.S. Department of Justice has found that
- Individuals with disabilities encountered violent crime at nearly three times the rate of those in the general population.
- Among the disability types measured, persons with cognitive disabilities had the highest rate of violent victimization.
According to another U.S. study, forty percent of violence against persons with disabilities was committed by persons well known to them or by casual acquaintances of the victim.
A Canadian study found that “persons who stated that they suffered from mental or behavioural disorders experienced personal victimization (including violent crimes and theft of personal property) at a rate that was more than four times the rate for the persons with no mental or behavioural disorder.”
In the past five years, over forty people with disabilities have been murdered by their parents in the U.S.
In places in both the U.S. and Canada, legislation has allowed for physician-assisted suicide, a violently anti-life perspective that pushes people with various disabilities into the burdensome position of choosing to die because no one around them wants them to live. Many organizations work to oppose this legislation including the ironically titled Not Dead Yet, the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, Campaign Life Coalition, National Right to Life, and many others.
These statistics depress me, because they represent not only lives lost, but also love thwarted and dreams dashed. Many people celebrate life in January, and pro-life causes are increasingly recognizing the importance of celebrating the lives of the unborn with disabilities as well as children and adults with disabilities.
Here are a couple other ways that people are acknowledging these tragedies. By uncovering the horrors, we can begin to take steps to celebrate the lives and giftedness of people living with disabilities.
- This Saturday, March 1st, the disability community will gather across the U.S. to remember disabled victims of filicide--disabled people murdered by their family members or caregivers.
- A new film, Labeled, exposes how parents of some children diagnosed with genetic disorders are being told their child’s condition is lethal and incompatible with life. Once labeled, children may have life sustaining food and medical care withheld or withdrawn, without the consent or knowledge of their parents. Learn more about the film and view the trailer at labeledthemovie.com.
The means by which violence is perpetrated against people with disabilities varies widely, but the statistics clearly indicate that people with disabilities are much more likely to have emotional and physical violence perpetrated against them than the general population. Perhaps the most important step a church can take to oppose this tide of terror is simply to engage all members of your church and community who have disabilities by breaking down barries of communication, architecture, and attitude, and engaging them in the full life of the congregation at co-laborers with Christ.