I am horrified by this recent story from Los Angeles, California! The L.A. County Sheriff is investigating the sexual assault of at least 10 women with severe disabilities. The Sheriff received 11 DVDs containing graphic videos of these men – these pigs – sexually assaulting women with disabilities.
As a disability advocate who has attended many trainings on the subject of safeguarding people with disabilities, I am painfully aware of the dangers our most vulnerable members of society face. Of course, being a parent of children with physical and developmental disabilities also makes this a personal issue. Most parents of kids with disabilities will tell you that the hardest thing about having a child with a disability is the worry they have about what will happen to their children when they are gone or no longer able to care for their kids. I know this is my biggest worry. Who will take care of my kids and keep them safe? It takes money – a lot of money – in order to properly care for a person with a disability; many require 24/7 care. It is impossible for most families to afford proper care on their own. For this reason, they need government assistance.
How does something like this L.A. story happen? I can guarantee that a big part of the problem is lack of services for people with disabilities. Sadly, when money gets tight, state budgets get cut. More often than not, it is our most vulnerable citizens who are hurt. Typical conservatives who want small government and low taxes don’t understand that cutting state spending puts people at risk. For example, here in Massachusetts, our DDS (Department of Developmental Services) is cutting back on staff for group homes. There are people in these homes who have serious mental and physical problems, yet the state is cutting out nursing care. Many homes have to share one nurse with several homes. This leaves clients being cared for by minimum wage, uneducated workers who are expected to take care of all of their needs, including the administration of medications. This is dangerous for both the health and safety of people with disabilities.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of the abuse and neglect that went on in large institutions back in the 60’s and 70’s. This led to a push to close these human warehouses in favor of smaller community settings. This was a step forward, however, if we keep cutting community services, we are going to hear more and more stories like this one in L.A. You can’t just stick people out in the community without the proper supports and safety nets in place.
Republicans, when you push for small government and lower taxes, you are jeopardizing the health and safety of the disabled, the poor and the elderly. How can you sleep at night? Some conservatives will say, “Oh, I don’t want services for people with disabilities cut, just cut out waste and the people who are cheating the system.” First, there are always going to be people who cheat a system, any system. That’s life, deal with it. But keep in mind that the corporate welfare and millionaire tax loop holes make social service waste look like a drop in the bucket. Second, when you cut taxes, people with disabilities will lose services. This is historically true and it’s happening now. Whether you like it or not, this is the way our government is currently set up. We have a two party system and a country divided. So, pick your side.
In my opinion, a country should be judge by how well it cares for it’s most vulnerable citizens. Put people before money and vote Democrat!