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How can we stop the violence?

November 28, 2012

Today I want to write about how our disabling culture leads to violence by disabled people.  Before I begin, I want to be clear that I don’t condone physical aggression by disabled people.  In my job, I prioritize interventions so that the children I serve do not hurt other people. 

Impairment is not an excuse for bad behaviour.  However, our expectations of disabled children (especially those with intellectual disabilities and/or mental disorders) can push them to violence.  When disabled children hit, kick, push, or bite others, I believe that they are communicating that too much is being asked of them.

What does our culture ask/expect disabled children to do?  We expect a disabled child to be someone they aren’t.  We ask them to “be normal”.  We not only ask them to “be normal”.  We ask them to want to “be normal” – to believe that they are not OK. 

We expect their parents to want their disabled children to be different.  We even expect parents to push their children to be different.  Then when the children become frustrated or ‘rebel’ with physical aggression, we say their parents are not doing their job properly.  Disabled children and their parents are in a lose-lose situation within our disabling culture.  If parents of a child with an impairment choose to allow their child to be who they are, they are accused of neglecting their child’s needs (another form of “not parenting their children properly”). 

What needs to happen to eliminate the violence?  I have some ideas but I’d like to hear yours first.

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