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NCJ Number: 192421 Find in a Library
Title: Crime Victims With Developmental Disabilities: A Review Essay
Journal: Criminal Justice and Behavior  Volume:28  Issue:6  Dated:December 2001  Pages:655-694
Author(s): Joan R. Petersilia
Date Published: December 2001
Page Count: 40
Type: Issue Overview
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article summarizes the research evidence on crimes against children and adults with developmental disabilities.
Abstract: It is divided into four sections. The first section describes the nature and extent of crimes against individuals with developmental disabilities. It notes that the first author credited with identifying the relationship between disability and victimization was von Hentig (1948), who suggested that four categories of people were particularly vulnerable to victimization: the young, the old, females, and the mentally disabled. Studies done in the 1960's found high rates of developmental, physical, and behavioral disabilities among abused children. A study by Sobsey (1994) also showed that crime and abuse was a serious problem for adults with developmental disabilities, both in institutional and community settings. The second section of this paper reviews the literature on risk factors associated with such victimization. The author advises that people with disabilities may be particularly vulnerable to crimes that involve interpersonal violence, because as a population, regardless of age or gender, they are often the least able to recognize danger, the least able to protect themselves, and the least able to obtain assistance within the criminal justice system. The third section of the paper discusses the manner in which justice agencies respond to these crimes. Evidence suggests that developmentally disabled victims disproportionately do not report victimizations to police, and that when they do, cases are seldom pursued when the victim is cognitively impaired, because such persons are assumed to have difficulty serving as credible witnesses in court. Specialized services for victims with disabilities, or generic services that include people with disabilities, are provided by a number of organizations; yet no data exist on either the presence of programs or the use of rape treatment centers, national advocacy centers, or government-sponsored child abuse counseling programs. The final section of the paper identifies the research and policy initiatives that could address the problem, with attention to research topics and methods. 2 tables and 76 references
Main Term(s): Victim profiles
Index Term(s): Learning disabilities; Persons with cognitive disabilities; Persons with Disabilities; Persons with physical disabilities; Victimization risk
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