Increased Susceptibility to Abuse

Adolescents with Down syndrome are exploited at a much higher rate than their typically-developing peers. Terri Couwenhoven, a sexuality educator who is also the mother of a girl with Down syndrome, cites several reasons for this increased risk:

Teens with Down syndrome are at increased risk for physical or sexual abuse because of their disabilities and life experiences.

Couwenhoven speaks unequivocally about preventing sexual abuse in teens with developmental disabilities: "My philosophy and response to parental fears about exploitation never waivers: the best way to help your child avoid exploitation is to give them the tools they need to be empowered and educated." (Couwenhoven, 2001, #2)

Teaching strategies recommended for providing these tools include: