The Arc of Larimer County
Local Non-Profits Team up to Take Aim at Sexual Assault Rates of People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities through Free Workshop Series
The Arc of Larimer County, a non-profit advocacy organization for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, is partnering up with the Sexual Assault Victim Advocacy Center (or SAVA) and to offer a free workshop series: Healthy Bodies, Healthy Boundaries – An Educational Series for Preteens and Teens with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (I/DD).
The free 7-week workshop series will cover topics like anatomy, puberty, relationships, differences between friends/crushes/dating, setting and respecting boundaries, and how to stay safe using technology. The content of the courses has been specifically designed for preteens and teens living with I/DD.
“Parents often feel that they don’t have the right tools or skills to talk with their preteen and teen about puberty, relationships, and sexual activity,” says Jessica Shouse, Individual Advocacy Specialist for The Arc of Larimer County. “Unfortunately, we find that this frequently leads to these important conversations not taking place. This puts individuals living with I/DD especially at risk for sexual assault as many perpetrators look for people they believe can’t recognize or report sexual assault.”
The nonprofits also note that there’s a general assumption that preteens and teens with I/DD won’t be interested in romantic relationships as they age and grow up. While each person with I/DD is different, many will seek romantic relationships. Growing up without the skills necessary to navigate all kinds of relationships, including relationships with co-workers, friends, and potential romantic partners, creates potential problems.
Earlier in 2018, NPR’s Special Series – Abused and Betrayed, found that people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than people without disabilities. As also highlighted by the Abused and Betrayed, advocates fear that a lack of sexual education, can contribute to higher rates of sexual assault.
“We were excited to see NPR’s Special Series specifically talk about Sexual Education as a tool to help lower sexual assault cases,” says Shouse. “This workshop series is about helping preteens and teens develop the skills necessary to have healthy relationships and staying safe as they navigate growing up.”
The free classes will be held Thursday evenings from 6pm – 7:30pm at Realities for Children, 308 East County Road 30, Fort Collins, CO 80525 starting March 22nd. A light dinner will be provided to course participants. It is encouraged, but not required, that participants attend all of the courses. In addition, the series encourages continued conversations at home by providing weekly resources for parents and caregivers with an opportunity for a specific caregiver workshop in the future.
To learn more about the series or register, please visit www.arclc.org/event/boundaries.