Reducing Violence in the Lives of People with Intellectual Disabilities

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Department of Health and Human Services
Award Year:
Phase I
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Socially and Economically Disadvantaged:
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Principal Investigator
 (541) 743-2692
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Phone: (541) 743-2692
Research Institution
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): As measured by the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS), people with disabilities age 12 and older experienced approximately 716,000 nonfatal violent crimes and 2.3 million property crimes in 2007. Rape, sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault are classified as nonfatal violent crimes. Property crimes consist of household burglary, motor vehicle theft, and property theft. Significant findings from the NCVS report indicate that people with a cognitive functioning disability had a higher risk of violent victimization than persons with any other type of disability, that violent crime was 1.5 times higher than the rate for people without a disability, and the rate of rape or sexual assault was more than twice the rate for people without a disability.9 In studies specific to individuals with cognitive functioning disabilities, Sobsey (1994) found people with ID are 4 to 10 times more likely to be victims of crime than are people without disabilities.1 In a series of studies involving people with intellectual disabilities (ID), Sobsey and Doe found that of 166 respondents, 82 percent of women and 18 percent of men had experienced sexual abuse.10 In a related study of 215 respondents, 79 percent of females and 21 percent of males had experienced sexual abuse1 with penetration in 62 percent of cases. In an Australian study, Wilson and Brewer (1992) found that victimization rates for assault were 3 times higher than for the nondisabled population, sexualassault was 11 times higher, and robbery was 13 times higher.11 It is widely accepted that people with ID fail to report crimes committed against them for a variety of reasons ranging from lack of understanding and limited communication skills to feeling threatened by a perpetrator who is also a caregiver.12 Maltreatment of people with ID is a problem, and people with ID are at especially high risk of maltreatment. 1,13-15 The application's long-term objectives are to reduce the deleterious and traumatic impact of maltreatment on people with intellectual disabilities through increasing awareness and the ability of individuals with intellectual disabilities to take action in the face of potential maltreatment. The relevance to the mission of the Eunice Kennedy Schriver NICHD is that MRDD branch is interested in assistive technologies that improve an individual's mental health. The proposed study would enable rapid translation of basic behavioral research findings from the field of MRDD into means to improve the lives of individuals with ID, and to minimize the burden on society. This feasibility study will use a single-group pretest posttest design to study the feasibility of using a computer-assisted program to teach people with ID to differentiate between supportive relationships and those characterized by maltreatment. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: The relevance of this study to the public health is the fact that violence and maltreatment has a negative effect on victims, often leading to psychological andemotional disruptions in functioning. People with intellectual disabilities are often victims of violence and maltreatment from an early age. In an effort to promote psychological and emotional health, people with intellectual disabilities will be self-empowered to recognize and respond to violence and maltreatment in the areas of sexual and psychological abuse or threats thereof.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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