It’s called NEEDS — Neurodiversity, Educate, Empower, Deliver, and Safety. The program is dedicated to preventing crimes against vulnerable special needs individuals and equipping them and their families with the tools to avoid criminal involvement, particularly when cognitive capacities are diminished, and harmful intent is not present.
The program brings together partners from school communities, law enforcement, and special needs, and focuses on non-profits and service providers. Together they will collaborate on finding safety solutions and resources to address the real-life risks affecting special needs children.
According to a report published by the University of Minnesota: Children with any kind of disability are more than twice as likely as children without disabilities to be physically abused, and almost twice as likely to be sexually abused.
People with developmental disabilities have a 4-to-10 times higher risk of becoming crime victims compared to those without disabilities. Persons with developmental disabilities have a high risk of being sexually abused. One researcher estimates that 90% of people with developmental disabilities will be sexually victimized in their lifetime, yet only 3% of the assaults will ever be reported.
Extremely low rates of reporting to the police: 40 percent of the crimes against people with mild mental developmental disabilities went unreported, and 71 percent of those against people with severe developmental disabilities went unreported.
According to the National Institute of Health, youth with special education needs are seven times more likely than youth without special education needs to be expelled or suspended, which increases the likelihood of juvenile justice system involvement in the year following a suspension or expulsion. Once involved in the juvenile justice system, youth with special education needs have a higher likelihood of recidivism than their juvenile justice counterparts without special education needs.
The Crime Stoppers NEEDS Program’s mission is to champion the safety, well-being, and empowerment of the special needs community by proactively preventing crimes against this vulnerable population and fostering knowledge of risks and safety solutions among those who live with and serve them.