I submit the accompanying request for proposal, “Task Force for the Creation of Deaf Culturally Competent Training for Service Providers of Deaf Children Survivors of Sexual Assault”, to implore the creation of a specific Task Force dedicated to improving first responder services to Deaf children survivors of sexual assault.
Deaf children have a unique set of barriers to accessing services when a violent has been committed against them. Many agencies may not have a uniform policy for dealing with Deaf children and their staff may lack a core cultural competence necessary for understanding the unique barriers faced by those survivors. Due to their unique barriers, Deaf children survivors under-report crimes perpetrated against them. The creation of a Task Force to implement a comprehensive training for medical providers, law enforcement, social service advocates, will improve Deaf children survivors’ access to service.
I would like to present an executive summary along with the research that shows that 50% of Deaf children will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime. Deaf children are more likely than hearing children to be survivors of violent crimes. It is certainly demonstrates the enormous psychological and physical impact on Deaf children survivors of sexual assault.
Despite this data, research specific to the prevalence to Deaf children survivors has not adequately been addressed. Studies do suggest that violent sexual crimes against Deaf children are under-reported. Deaf cultural competence, specialized services, and improved means of communication with Deaf children survivors will result in more effective service interventions.
Deaf children survivors of sexual assault face special barriers to accessing services. Deaf children survivors suffer from inefficient agency communication systems, and a general provider lack of awareness of the cultural lens of Deafhood and Deaf communities. Deafhood discourses shows that in Paddy Ladd’s book, Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood, political and administrative discourses, academic discourses, specialist discourses, medical discourses, scientific discourses, and media discourses. There is more to this—colonialism and 20th century Deaf Divisions: Linguistic colonialism, colonialism as loss of history and traditions, colonialism and mental health must not be forgotten.
Hooks writes, “For most minority cultures, then, retaining and maintaining a strong historical self is crucial to their pride and to their ability to resist majority-culture constructs of what they should be.”
Ladd writes in page 321, “In Deaf minority cultures, because 90% of parent-child relations are ‘cross-cultural’, the role of Deaf history as transmitted through the education system is of particularly crucial import. Its removal or denial can arguably have especial significance for the mental health of the individual….” The key point is CRUCIAL IMPORT. That is why it is in BOLD statement.
The image below shows that Deaf children are the missing pieces to the real world—they do not simply exist in the real world as shown in Nancy Rourke’s painting, “The Missing Piece”.
As a result, Deaf children survivors endure increased isolation and under-report crimes committed against them. Deaf children survivors can be more effectively served through development of a special Task Force spearheaded by the county in your area, to specially train front line staff whose assist Deaf children survivors in crisis.
Wherever the county you are in, can partner with local governmental, and social service agencies to encourage, through specialized training, highly skilled staff advocates knowledgeable on the special issues affecting Deaf children that may prevent them from seeking help.
The advocacy skills learned through the trainings will positively enable agents from law enforcement, hospitals, the justice department and child protective services to more effectively communicate with Deaf children in crisis in the greater area, and provide a culturally competent delivery of service that is accessible and comprehensive.
The report introduction shows that there are not enough integrated resources to assist Deaf children of violent sexual crimes. Lack of understanding of the unique experiences of these survivors, their history of frustration to accessing adequate services after a crime as occurred, results in barriers to services to these children. The creation of a Task Force to implement a comprehensive training for medical providers, law enforcement, social service advocates, will improve Deaf children survivors’ access to service.
With the analysis of data, since there is Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization has added, I certainly hope that 50% of Deaf children who experiences sexual assault be recognized in there similar to Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990. In addition, Deaf children are more likely than hearing children to be survivors of childhood sexual assault and continue to feel the effects of rape or assault well after the crime has been committed. I was one of them when I was ten years old and I am still feeling the effects of it at age of 40. I had been suffering from depression, and abuse alcohol to cover my pain is evident enough to experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
Despite the alarming rates of sexual assault against Deaf children, very little research examines the rates at which Deaf children are sexually assaulted. Less formal research examines whether Deaf children survivors seek help after the crime, who assists them, and how service providers and law enforcement can best respond. More research is needed to fully understand the scope of sexual assault and its prevalence in Deaf communities.
Moreover, additional research of community response to Deaf children survivors is necessary to create an understanding of sexual assault in the Deaf community and develop an appropriate systemic service response. Deaf children who are survivors of sexual assault differ from the experience of hearing survivors.
In addition to the stigma and stereotypes placed on them as survivors, Deaf children also deal with the additional stereotypes attributed to them via their Deaf status. Their feelings of shame and embarrassment multiply due to belonging to a close-knit Deaf cultural community. Deaf children are hesitant to report crimes, especially if the perpetrator belongs to the Deaf community. Reporting could publicize their survivor’s status within this community, which Deaf children often perceive will be unsupportive. As a result, the sexual assault can produce a profound feeling of isolation.
Another barrier stems from the failure of our hearing-based culture to recognize Deaf children. Services often view Deafness as a medical impairment. Many Deaf children do not see themselves as disabled, but members of a distinct cultural, linguistic group. This cultural lens affects their interactions with service providers who do not recognize Deaf culture. Communication difficulties often result.
Communication systems are often lacking when Deaf children seek help. Many agencies do not readily have an interpreter available. The agents may rely on family members to get survivors’ story, resulting in further embarrassment and reluctance of the survivor to report the crime.
Even if interpreters are present, a Deaf child must now report her or his story to two strangers instead of one. Access to Ubi Duo owned by sCOMM or trained staff who can operate this technology, is often unreliable, despite ADA law mandating this technology to patients (ADA Training Brief 2). Frustrating experiences with hearing “dispatchers” and law enforcement further dissuade Deaf children survivors from getting help.
A greater understanding of Deaf perception to service provision, and communication issues, is necessary to improve services to Deaf children survivors of Sexual assault in order to better address their cultural and individual needs. Along with the conclusion from analysis, the data suggests that interveners often lack the communication skills and systems to address the needs of Deaf children survivors of sexual assault.
American Sign Language interpreters are not always readily available to assist Deaf survivors, and interveners often resort to interpreters only when more traditional communication has failed.
Many agencies may not have a uniform policy for dealing with Deaf children survivors and their staff may lack a core cultural competence necessary for understand the unique barriers faced by these victims. Due to their unique barriers, Deaf children survivors under-report crimes perpetrated against them. As no reliable tracking exists of how and when Deaf children seek out services, statistics fail to accurately portray the level of survivorship faced by Deaf children, and the frequency in which they access help from law enforcement, hospitals, or social service agencies. Inadequate tracking results in inadequate preparedness in front line response. Lack of readiness creates an inadequate service response.
Response time increases when an interpreter is located. This could cause front line staff to use family members for interpretation, or attempt to glean details of the assault through less effective, incomplete methods of communication.
Staff is not efficiently trained in communication systems like Ubi Duo; If Ubi Duo is unavailable, the introduction of more efficient, advanced communication such as certified ASL interpreters are unlikely to be introduced. Also, personnel trained in conversational ASL are not qualified interpreters. Instead, Deaf children must rely on interpreters who are available but may not have the level of expressive and receptive sign competence needed in sensitive emergency situations.
There is much needed tremendous opportunity to shape and transform existing service for Deaf children survivors into services that offer comprehensive support, safety, and healing to survivors through medical, legal, and social advocacy.
For example, Deaf Counseling Center, Deaf Hope, et al provides as front line to become staunch hospital advocates, accompanying and supporting sexual assaults in need of forensic exams. Law enforcement and county prosecutors will become important advocates as Deaf children survivors navigate the criminal and legal systems to obtain protective orders and Deaf-specific legal supports. Mental health, sexual assault services can serve as community educators of topics directly related to psychological, medical, and social issues faced by Deaf children. Services specific to the needs of Deaf children survivors of sexual assault can promote healing.
Opposition to the development this task force concerns the development of an adequate training model. Where can best practices and culturally competent protocols be attained? Deaf Counseling Center is one of few organizations that offers technical training to service providers. The organization offers important pertinent training modules, including: sexual assault advocate certification, sexual assault in the Deaf community, Deaf culture, becoming accessible to Deaf children survivors.
Similar trainings can be found through ADWAS, a Seattle-based organization that has successfully duplicated its programs in cities across the country. Trainings useful to the Task Force include: education to understand issues of Deaf culture and language, professional development, providers working with Deaf children on issues of sexual assault, interpreter training on appropriate signs in criminal justice proceedings and medical settings.When I experienced sexual assault when I was ten years old, I never had of that stuff like today. Back in 1984, there was no training that would lay groundwork for a comprehensive integrated approach to service provision for Deaf children survivors nor culturally competent services did not result in increased access by members of the Deaf community and result in less taxpayer dollars in the long run. Ubi Duo owned by sCOMM is not healthy AT ALL. It hurts Deaf children even more.
I lived in the hearing community that destroyed my life than people can imagine. I was a forgotten survivor of sexual assault. The hearing world is very cruel.
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Copyright © 2015 Jason Tozier
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