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Strengthen Prevention

Intervention – responding after abuse occurs — is essential. Prevention – taking action before abuse occurs — is critical to ending abuse. Despite its critical role, little attention and few resources are focused on prevention. Each of us can make prevention a priority. It starts with recognizing the following: abuse of people with disabilities is a real problem, reducing risk is a critical component of prevention, and ending abuse is possible when stakeholders take active steps to prevent it.

Steps to Strengthen Prevention

Speaking Up and Speaking Out

Misinformed beliefs and attitudes about people with disabilities as weak, child-like, or “less than” people without disabilities contribute to abuse of people with disabilities. Policymakers, practitioners, and other stakeholders play a crucial role in changing such attitudes and their negative impacts by speaking up and speaking out whenever people with disabilities are devalued in policy or practice.

Planning for Action Together

Efforts to strengthen prevention need to engage a variety of stakeholders willing to take action: people with disabilities, Deaf individuals, family members, neighbors, communities, school personnel, criminal justice system personnel, practitioners, and policymakers. We need to sit around the same tables, develop a plan, and take action to prevent abuse within very community.  No one system, organization, or individual alone has all the answers.  Together, stakeholders can identify a prevention focus, develop a prevention plan, and take action to strengthen prevention.

Identifying Both Victim and Offender Risk Factors

Risk reduction efforts need to focus on factors that increase a person’s risk of victimization and factors that cause someone to abuse. Risk reduction plans, for example, that focus only on training victims about personal safety place all the burden to prevent abuse on victims, not the people responsible for the abuse. Identifying both victim and offender risk factors, and targeting prevention efforts specifically to address them, strengthens the impact that prevention plays in ending abuse.

Supporting What’s Effective

Effective prevention efforts are inclusive. They involve people with disabilities and reflect what’s really happening in people’s lives. Effective prevention efforts are also evaluated. Stakeholders have tried out what works and what might not work to end abuse. Policymakers and practitioners committed to end abuse need to support prevention efforts that are effective.

Resources You Can Use