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Developmental Disabilities Council: MO Needs Inclusive Sex-Ed Project

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Federal law requires data on crime victims to include information on crimes committed against people with disabilities

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and groups are advocating for comprehensive sexual education for everyone, including folks with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

The Missouri Developmental Disabilities Council has approved $150,000 to fund a three-year project to develop this type of training, for groups and individuals. Miranda Fredrick, the council's communications coordinator, said it's important that self-advocates who go through this program come out of it feeling prepared to share the information they've learned with others.

"I think it's important," she said, "to remind people just in general, for example, the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationships, signs of unhealthy relationships, tips and information on how to improve relationships, and even creating better communication."

Fredrick noted that sexual assault can happen to anyone, but data from the U.S. Justice Department shows the rate of serious violent crime against people with disabilities is more than three times the rate for those without disabilities. Some 65% of those crimes are committed by someone the victim knows, and 57% during daylight hours.

Diana Willard, a self-advocate and council member, said many young kids experience sexual assault but don't know that's what it is until later.

"Sex ed is not only for your higher-intelligence, top-of-the-line students," she said. "It's for every student to learn, to understand, and to make accommodations for."

The council will hold a question-and-answer session about the sexual-education project and application requirements on May 4. Applications for funding are due in June, and the program start date is scheduled for August.

The Missouri News Service is a partner with KRCU Public Radio.