The Arc Reacts to Charges Filed in Brutal Beating of Chicago Teen with Reported Cognitive Disabilities

Washington, DC – In reaction to the news that a Chicago area teenager with reported cognitive disabilities was brutally beaten by four assailants while being held captive over the weekend, The Arc released the following statement:

“The charges fit the crime – this hateful act by four people including one classmate of this teenager should be investigated and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. And beyond the law enforcement response, which has been swift and appropriate, the public should be shocked and outraged by the actions of these individuals in reportedly targeting a person with a disability and treating him in a way that can only be described as inhumane.

“While this horrific incident is gaining widespread media attention, sadly, it’s not an isolated case. Violence, abuse and bullying of people with disabilities are widespread in our society, often at the hands of abusers who are known to them. Crimes like this one cannot be tolerated, and it’s our collective responsibility to respect and stand up for the rights of people with disabilities. Our fellow human beings deserve nothing less,” said Peter Berns, CEO of The Arc.

The Arc has a long history of standing up for the rights of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), and supporting them to do the same, when they find themselves in dangerous situations and in our legal system. The Arc runs the National Center for Criminal Justice and Disability (NCCJD), the first national effort of its kind to bring together both victim and suspect/offender issues involving people with I/DD under one roof.

NCCJD has a white paper on the topic of violence, abuse and bullying affecting people with I/DD, and the paper cites one study showing that 60% of students with disabilities report being bullied regularly compared with only 25% of all students. A Bureau of Justice Statistics report published in February 2014 titled “Crime against People with Disabilities, 2009- 2012” estimated 1.3 million violent crimes occurred against people with disabilities in 2012, a rate nearly three times higher than for people without disabilities. The rate of violent victimization for youth (ages 12-15) was nearly three times higher for people with disabilities. More than half of violent crimes against people with disabilities were against people with more than one type of disability—and about one in five thought their disability was the reason they were targeted. Individuals with cognitive disabilities had a rate of victimization higher than the rates for people with all other kinds of disabilities.

NCCJD is a national clearinghouse for information and training on the topic of people with I/DD as victims, witnesses and suspects or offenders of crime. The Center provides training and technical assistance, an online resource library, white papers, and more. The Center created Pathways to Justice,® a comprehensive training program facilitated through chapters of The Arc, which assists officers to both identify disability, and know how to respond in ways that keep all parties as safe as possible. Pathways to Justice utilizes a multi-disciplinary response that provides a foundation for a collaborative approach among community partners.

The Arc advocates for and serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD), including Down syndrome, autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders, cerebral palsy and other diagnoses. The Arc has a network of over 650 chapters across the country promoting and protecting the human rights of people with I/DD and actively supporting their full inclusion and participation in the community throughout their lifetimes and without regard to diagnosis.

Editor’s Note: The Arc is not an acronym; always refer to us as The Arc, not The ARC and never ARC. The Arc should be considered as a title or a phrase.

One thought on “The Arc Reacts to Charges Filed in Brutal Beating of Chicago Teen with Reported Cognitive Disabilities

  1. While these criminals have been charged with a hate crime because of racial and disability slurs caught on tape, it is imperative that our laws that protect other vulnerable groups like children and senior extend to adults with disabilities. This case may be easy to prosecute because of the self-inflicted evidence of the video taken by the criminals. However, with statistics showing that people with disabilities are 2.5 times more likely to be victims of crimes, abuse, neglect, etc., we really need upfront precautions and stiffer penalties once crimes are committed in order to better protect adults with disabilities since they are as vulnerable as children and seniors; not have to prove that it was a hate crime when, without video like this, it’s almost impossible. I am asking The Arc to please work toward getting legislation that automatically includes adults with disabilities into any and all laws that provide protection for children and seniors. Also, for the same reason this video is important to prosecuting these criminals, so is video in residential homes owned by The Arc and other service providers. I would like to see a Position Statement from The Arc encouraging bringing the protection of vulnerable adults with ID, who are very limited in communicating abuse, up to date with technology. Video cameras in homes are much needed in order to provide these individuals with a voice and the much needed proof to convict criminals. Convictions are the only way to bring an end to criminals bouncing between vulnerable group/nursing home providers. This need not be an added expense to service providers, just an option for individuals, families, community organizations, other non-profits, etc. to provide to The Arcs in order to protect this vulnerable population. It should be a partnership to do what is right and end abuse and neglect for those without a voice; to report the many horrific crimes we only know of via these videos.

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