Individuals with disabilities are particularly susceptible to all forms of abuse because they frequently require support services, which place them in vulnerable positions. Additionally, individuals with disabilities frequently have communication and/or physical challenges that make it difficult to protect themselves from abuse and to inform others of abuse when it does occur. According to research, 90 percent of people with disabilities will experience some form of sexual assault or abuse at some point in their lives.
Coalition Against Sexual Abuse of Children with Disabilities (CASACD) was formed in response to this striking fact. The vision of CASACD is to help children with disabilities live free from sexual abuse.
The mission of CASACD is twofold. First, we educate and train caregivers and medical treatment providers of the sexual abuse risks to children with disabilities, the signs of sexual abuse and the necessary steps of prevention. In addition, we facilitate a community network of collaboration in treating children with disabilities who have been sexually abused and serve as a key member of that network.
Our three main areas of focus are:
- prevention, public awareness and education
- best practices in mental health and cross-training of mental health and direct service professionals
- investigation and protocol
CASACD’s strategic plan is focused on increasing awareness of sexual abuse among parents and professionals, increasing access of mental health services for children with disabilities who have experienced sexual abuse, increasing knowledge of sexual safety issues for children with disabilities, and improving knowledge and expertise of professionals who are first responders to the abuse of children with disabilities. In order to address the need for a comprehensive and holistic response for children with disabilities, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center has created new policies and procedures in regards to the coordination of investigations involving children with disabilities.
Information for Families
In early 2013, ChicagoCAC and Stop It Now! unveiled the results of its collaborative efforts: tip sheets for caregivers of children with disabilities. Download these fact sheets here:
- Family Safety Planning to Prevent Child Abuse
- How to Talk to Children to Reduce Vulnerability to Sexual Abuse
- How to Protect your Children from Abuse in Program Settings
- Behaviors to Watch for When Adults are with Children & Signs that a Child or Teen may be At-Risk to Harm a Child
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?
In January 2011, ChicagoCAC began facilitating a network of dynamic professionals and concerned community members, which includes:
- Autism Home Support Services
- Archdiocese of Chicago
- Catholic Office of the Deaf
- Chicago Police Department
- Clearbrook Residential Programs
- Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
- Developmental Disabilities Family Clinic through University of Illinois
- Deaf and Mental Health Resources
- Easter Seals of Metropolitan Chicago
- Illinois Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics
- Illinois Department of Children and Family Services
- Jewish Children and Family Services
- Prevent Child Abuse Illinois
- Project Reach
CASACD is funded by A. Montgomery Ward Foundation, Midwest Regional Children’s Advocacy Center and Chicago Blackhawks Community Fund.
For more information, contact Meg O’Rourke, manager of strategic initiatives:
(312) 492-3750 or MORourke@ChicagoCAC.org