Children with disabilities are three times more likely to be abused than children without disabilities. In particular, children with intellectual disabilities are five times more likely to be abused.
The Coalition Against Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities (CASACD) aims to influence thoughtful and inclusive decisions that affect the systemic responses to cases of sexual abuse involving children with disabilities, promote primary prevention strategies and explore ways to exact policy change. Led by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, 23 core partners represent social service, prevention, law enforcement, medical, advocacy and mental health disciplines.
CASACD promotes social change by creating a forum for discussion, new thinking and collective action. Critical goals of the collaborative are to provide valuable input on how to enhance the process of investigating abuse of children with disabilities and to bridge the gaps between caregivers, clinicians serving children with disabilities and mental health professionals serving children who have experienced sexual abuse. CASACD also works to raise awareness of sexual abuse of children with disabilities and provides prevention resources to caregivers and agencies. Working together, this group of diverse individuals and organizations has the ability to affect, advocate for and implement significant, system-wide changes in policy, culture and practice.
To educate and train caregivers, investigative team members, treatment providers, and community members of the sexual abuse risks to children with disabilities, the signs of sexual abuse, and the necessary steps of prevention. And to facilitate an informed network of collaboration in investigating sexual abuse allegations, and treating children with disabilities who have been sexually abused.
- Increase public awareness of the vulnerability to sexual abuse of children with disabilities
- Increase access of mental health services to children with disabilities who have experienced sexual abuse
- Increase knowledge of sexual safety issues for children with disabilities
- Improve knowledge and expertise of first responders to address abuse of children with disabilities
In January 2011, ChicagoCAC began facilitating a network of dynamic professionals and concerned community members, which includes:
- Archdiocese of Chicago Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review
- Asians with Disabilities Outreach Project Think-Tank
- Autism Home Support Services
- Autism Research Institute
- Catholic Charities Adult Protective Services
- Catholic Office of the Deaf
- Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center
- Chicago Police Department Special Investigations Unit
- Children’s Research Triangle
- Clearbrook Residential Treatment Center
- Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
- Deaf and Mental Health Resources
- Dr. Marjorie Fujara, John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Chicago
- Easter Seals
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
- Illinois Department of Human Services
- Jewish Child and Family Services
- Prevent Child Abuse Illinois
- Project Reach Illinois
- Rape Victims Advocates
- Self Advocates
- UIC Disabilities Family Clinics
Information for Families
ChicagoCAC partnered with Stop It Now! to create tip sheets for caregivers of children with disabilities. Download the PDFs here:
- Family Safety Planning to Prevent Child Abuse in collaboration with Stop It Now!
- How to Talk to Children to Reduce Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse in collaboration with Stop It Now!
- How to Protect your Children from Abuse in Program Settings in collaboration with Stop It Now!
- Behaviors to Watch for When Adults are with Children & Signs that a Child or Teen may be At-Risk to Harm a Child in collaboration with Stop It Now!
Additional information can be found in Stop It Now’s FAQs section:
- What is the risk of child sexual abuse for a child with disabilities?
- Does a child who has a disability need to be taught about sex?
- What is the best way to communicate information about sexuality to a child who has limited expressive communication?
For more information, contact Meg O’Rourke, manager of strategic initiatives:
(312) 492-3750 or MORourke@ChicagoCAC.org
CASACD is funded by A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center and Chicago Blackhawks Community Fund.